Carter, Crumb, Lansky, Liptak, Schuller, M Starobin, M Wagner & Wernick

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Carter,Crumb,Lansky,Liptak,M Starobin,M Wagner & Wernick,Schuller
LABELS: Bridge
ALBUM TITLE: New music with guitar, vol. 6
WORKS: Works by Carter, Crumb, Lansky, Liptak, Schuller, M Starobin, M Wagner & Wernick
PERFORMER: David Starobin (guitar), George Crumb (percussion); Speculum Musicae/William Purvis
David Starobin is the virtuoso of the contemporary classical guitar. Over the past 20 years or so around 300 pieces have been written for him, and he’s recorded quite a few of them in the ‘New Music with Guitar’ series on his own Bridge label, of which this is the sixth volume. A whole hour of new music for the guitar you might think would be too much of good thing, but Starobin is careful to vary the mood and pacing, and he leavens the guitar sound with other tone colours. For example, George Crumb’s Mundus canis pits the guitar against a range of percussion, played by the composer. Unfortunately this suite of character pieces portraying different dogs turns out to be easily the most irritating piece I’ve heard this year. Fortunately the other pieces make up for it. They include Joshua Variations, by Starobin’s brother Michael, a charming set of miniatures portraying a day in the life a new-born baby. Charm is in fact the key-note of the disc; even Elliott Carter’s Luimen, for guitar ensemble, feels like a divertimento. Whatever the style, Starobin’s playing is a joy; agile, expressive, and always golden-toned no matter how fiendishly awkward the notes might be. Ivan Hewett