Goran Söllscher - Eleven-String Baroque

Söllscher’s compelling artistry wins the day as the guitar meets the lute

Author: 
Jeremy Nicholas

Goran Söllscher - Eleven-String Baroque

  • Passacaglia
  • (XVI) Auserlesene Lauten-Stücke, Fantasia in F

An 11-string guitar. Unusual, wouldn’t you say? It had many devotees in the last half of the 19th century, especially in Andalusia, with much specially-written repertoire. Its single strings are accommodated on a fingerboard a third bigger than normal, and tuned (I think) c, f, d, g, b, e, a, d, g, b, e. Strange, then, that DG’s booklet fails to tell us anything about the instrument or its history beyond revealing that Söllscher’s guitar was built for him by Georg Bolin and ‘combines the qualities of the guitar with those of the lute. It can produce an incredibly rich and sustained sound, and expands the range of the guitar’. It can indeed – the guitar’s Bösendorfer Imperial to the lute’s Chappell baby grand.

Not surprisingly, Söllscher produces an ear-catching range of colours, warmly recorded, and with only a minimal number of squeaky fingers sliding up the fingerboard – that part of guitar-playing on disc that, on repeated playing, become as extraneously embedded in the music as the click-click-click from a scratched LP. At first, this mixed programme of lute music and transcriptions yields few contrasts in tempo and texture.

Not all the works are of the same interest or quality, and even this resonant instrument cannot quite sustain the singing melody of the Air from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No 3. Yet Söllscher’s artistry is utterly compelling. His part-playing in the Bach solo sonata is a thing of wonder (try the fugue), while the trifles by Roman, Baron, Couperin and the charming suite by Logy are upgraded to miniature masterpieces.

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