Theodorakis, Domeniconi, Satie, Houghton & John Williams

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Domeniconi,Houghton & John Williams,Satie,Theodorakis
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Guitarist
WORKS: Works by Theodorakis, Domeniconi, Satie, Houghton & John Williams
PERFORMER: John Williams (guitar)
Mood, mode and temper are the bonding links in an original programme. In his contemporary choices Williams has always given the impression of searching. With this selection he comes near to articulating one part of a personal aesthetic. Strongly melodic, the music favours modality rather than tonality and enters a world in which old music from the Christian and Muslim Mediterranean shares features with traditional and Renaissance strains from northern Europe and with compositions that adopt these idioms.

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In a word, it’s rooted. Spain, the obvious arena, is absent. Centrepieces are Phillip Houghton’s rhapsodic and rhythmic Stélé, the most virtuosic and concentrated work on the disc, and Williams’s Aeolian Suite, a neatly woven mix of original and arranged material with orchestra which recalls Rodrigo’s Fantasia and ends with a tune in personal, upbeat mood.

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Around them are short pieces, from the intense Domeniconi to the disarming Theodorakis, who starts the CD with a naggingly familiar melody – it is identical in outline but not rhythm to the start of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto. The Gymnopédie No. 3 orchestration has appealing sonorities but a lumbering pace, whereas the solo Gnossiennes Nos 1 and 2 catch the necessary lift. CD-ROM tracks are promised, but were not on the review copy. Robert Maycock