Black Venus – New Music for Guitar
All the works here have some connection with the Bath International Guitar Festival, of which the performer, Tom Kerstens, is the artistic director; only the work of Takemitsu has any other listed recording, though all the composers are to be found in the RED Classical Catalogue.
The ground plan is that of suggesting in what way the guitar repertory might profitably go in the 21st century. Some progress beyond its established boundaries is certainly desirable if the guitar is not to become a set-in-stone museum piece, though it is wisely not suggested that the baby should depart down the plughole with the bath water (no pun intended!).
These are strong works, worthy of a place in the proposed 'revolution' and I enjoyed them all. In some cases, not least that of Giles Swayne, recourse to the notes in the booklet is helpful in clarifying the programmatic intention of the music. The performances are persuasive and Kerstens' playing has a warmth and depth of emotional involvement I have not found in his previous recordings. The recorded sound is excellent - the weather must have been cool enough to allow the air-conditioning in the Michael Tippett Auditorium to be switched off!
My only reservation is the stolid conservatism of guitarists, few of whom show much willingness to accept (or even to listen to) music in new idioms. The composers and works they know are what they like - and what they like is what they know. Only time and sales will tell whether this enterprising record succeeds in its objective. I wish it well.