Almost a Song - Contemporary Guitar

Author: 
John Duarte

Almost a Song - Contemporary Guitar

  • Kammermusik, Drei Tientos (solo guitar)
  • Preludios Epigrammaticos
  • All in Twilight
  • Etoiles
  • Graphic
  • Fantasy Divisions
  • Ontoñales
  • Almost a Song

At the age of 40 Olivier Chassain is not yet a household name on the British side of La Manche, nor does he offer any bait to tempt the cautious listener to part with his or her money; what he does bravely offer is a solid programme, superbly played. Only the Takemitsu is currently on the Gramophone Database (three versions). Chassain’s declared passion for contemporary music is not a merely superficial gesture of ‘with-it-ness’: his empathy with and understanding of it are clear in his shaping of every line, recognizing every vestige of song, and in the naturalness of his feeling for dynamic ebb and flow. At the service of these things is his finely honed technique and consistently refined ‘three-dimensional’ tone. The music speaks in various twentieth-century tongues, but not those of dodecaphony, aleatory or minimalism – which should go some way towards reassuring those of a nervous disposition – and a tonal centre is seldom far away.
I particularly liked Edith Lejet’s interplay of sonorities and exchange of roles in the ‘recapitulation’ (the structure is A-B-A). The compasses of the guitar (a ‘baritone’ instrument) and viola permit the two instruments to work either in complementary fashion, or to occupy the same pitch space, whilst separate in the latter case by their very different characteristics of tone and attack. Olivier Chassain is a true artist (and resourceful composer) – take this opportunity to hear him and to tug a respectful forelock.'

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