Hovhaness, Reich, Riley, Richmond, Kernis, Zappa

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Hovhaness,Kernis,Reich,Richmond,Riley,Zappa
LABELS: New Albion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music for Guitar
WORKS: Guitar Sonata No. 1; Guitar Sonata No. 2; Nagoya Guitars; Barabas; Three Preludes; Partita; Waltz for Guitar
PERFORMER: David Tanenbaum (guitar)
David Tanenbaum here presents first recordings of music for guitar by five living American composers. Aaron Jay Kernis’s Partita (the most substantial work on offer) reconfirms his penchant for producing music which is well-designed, direct and richly imaginative in its use of colour; surely Kernis is among the most consistently satisfying composers now active. Two pseudo-Baroque sonatas by Alan Hovhaness are also impressive; the improvisatory quality of No. 2 is telling, and the dances of No. 1 lilt graciously. Terry Riley has recently embarked on a series of works for guitar, among which is Barabas, a confident yet graceful exploration of dancy rhythmic material. The programme is rounded out by a minimalistic study from Steve Reich (Nagoya Guitars, adapted by Tanenbaum and Reich from Nagoya Marimbas), attractively full-textured ruminations from Lew Richmond (Three Preludes), and a 39-second serial crab canon by the late Frank Zappa called Waltz for Guitar (the composer himself described it as ‘kind of short and boring’).


A pleasant collection, then. Tanenbaum’s playing is thoroughly accomplished and unfailingly musical if, for my taste, also generally cautious and less vital than desirable where dramatic shape, dynamic contrast, and rhythmic life are concerned. David Breckbill