Stefano Grondona: Nocturnal
Stefano Grondona continues his interest in the history of the guitar, this recording being a homage to Britten in the composer’s centenary year and to Julian Bream in his 80th, as well as to the guitar-maker José Romanillos. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the composition of Nocturnal, written, like all the works here, for Bream.
Bream, Britten and Romanillos pervade the recording. Romanillos, because Grondona performs on three of his instruments, including the 1973 guitar formerly owned by Bream. Britten, because by opening his recital with the Nocturnal, Grondona creates a nocturnal musical dreamscape against which all the other works are read. Bream, because Grondona, too, is a master of colour and philosophical nuance, able to negotiate tonal and emotional spectrums with equal fluency.
Thus Grondona’s Nocturnal is as layered and evocative of psychological states as the different sections of the music itself, the obsessive Passacaglia feeling like a nightmare’s crisis before the final great calm that is Dowland’s ‘Come heavy sleep’.
Walton’s Five Bagatelles are equally well characterised and as evocative of day as merely a prelude to night as Richard Rodney Bennett’s Five Impromptus. But it is in Takemitsu’s All in Twilight and ‘Muir Woods’ from In the Woods that Grondona locates a more profound kinship with the Nocturnal in performances that emphasise a stasis and movement redolent of sleep and wakefulness.