New Music With Guitar Vol 9
The words ‘new music with guitar’ can strike fear into the heart of even the most intrepid musical explorer. Thankfully this is never the case with classical guitarist David Starobin’s superb series for Bridge, which features music, often written expressly for Starobin – one of today’s most passionate and tireless advocates for new guitar music – by some of the 20th century’s finest composers including Elliott Carter, George Crumb and Poul Ruders. This latest instalment in the series includes chamber and orchestral works by Ruders, Richard Wernick and Paul Lansky, all of whose music has featured on previous volumes. It is also one of the series’ most attractive volumes to date, the compositions satisfying both the intellect and the soul.
Wernick’s The Name of the Game for guitar and other instruments including winds, strings, percussion and harp is possibly the most challenging for listeners, its core material being based on the letters of Starobin’s name. But Wernick’s playful temperament and extraordinary ear for colour win the day. From the title of Ruders’s Schrödinger’s Cat – 12 canons for violin and guitar – one might suspect a dry academic exercise. This is anything but, with the 12 short and tuneful canons by turns frenetic, joyful, wistful and everything in between. The movement titles of Lanksy’s guitar concerto With the Grain provoke the opposite reaction, with ‘Redwood Burl’, ‘Karelian Birch’, ‘Quilted Beech’ and ‘Walnut Burl’ more than fulfilling their promise with evocative melodies and richly hued orchestration.
As always with Bridge, the performances are exemplary, the recorded sound demonstration quality.