June 4, 2012

MORALES-CASO: El Jinete Azul; La Fragua de Vulcano. SANCHEZ-VERDU: Kitab. DEL PUERTO: Viento de Primavera. GOSALVEZ-BLANCO: Music from out oj Time; Sparks. BALADA: Caprichos Nol.

Adam Levin with Cuarteto ASSAIJavier Esbri (guitar) and Pablo J. Heras Moral (trumpet). Gober Records. GOB - MFOTI - 2126 - 210 Here is a CD of contemporary Spanish chamber music with guitar, every track of which is a world premiere recording.

The opener El Jinete Azul by Eduardo Morales Caso is for guitar and string quartet; written in 2007 as a tribute to the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. It has moments of striking lyricism intermixed with some frenetic work from the quartet, whilst his companion piece La Fragua de Vulcano is a solo work full of wide spread arpeggios, and lightning runs and a huge amount of contrasting styles in its six+ minutes.

Kitab is for two guitars and here Sanchez-Verdu opens with a repeated rhythmic motif pitted against various tabbed notes from the other guitar. interspersed with solo runs that have an eastern flavour in them, owing to the fact that kitab is Arabic for book. The music in this piece is more experimental and stark contrasts in sound give it a disjointed feel.

The following Viento de Primavera is different again, and is a three-movement work with a very lyrical content. The opening Entre La Brisa is fluid and tranquil in nature, whilst the middle movement Luz de Trade is broody and contemplative. The final Danza is virtuosic and with more than a hint of jazz in its harmonies, and altogether a work that betrays a fine compositional mind.

Mario Gosalves-Blanco's Music from Out of Time begins in a contemplative mood that gradually catches fire and builds energy that drives the next four movements. The second movement Time/No Time is all about contrasts and two thematic conceptions that refuse for a while to relate to one another until the very end when all is resolved. Then comes Aim To Serve, a simplistic and harmonious piece after the hurly burly of the foregoing. Elements of renaissance lute music come to mind at times here. Self-Existence is fugal and in three voices, and baroque-like, whilst the final Radiance is back to the present day styles with biting chords and triumphant fanfare structures in a very short but succinct movement. This is a large and interesting work that could easily catch on with performers.

This composer's other piece is for the strange combination of guitar and muted trumpet. one I can honestly say I have never come across before. At a little over five minutes the four movements don't over stay their welcome and I found the experience interesting but not one I would want to repeat again.

The final work is Leonardo Balada's Caprichos No 1 for guitar and string quartet, and consists of seven short movements based on folk songs by Federico Garcia Lorca. The composer has freely adapted these works originally for piano and voice and expanded the works using an assortment of contemporary techniques so that you have to try hard to envisage the folk origins. Whereas the modernity of some of the music here might be a little off-putting there are moments of great beauty that are worth waiting for and a whole, the piece is one that works very well indeed.

A programme of all new pieces is going to have some winners and some losers depending on your personal likes and dislikes but there are enough good pieces here to make this CD worth investigating.

Chris Dumigan