CD REVIEWS – August: Part 3

ABRAZO.jpgABRAZO – The Havana Sessions

Ansonica Records/Parma Recordings

4 Stars

An exciting recording which showcases the talents of Bunny Beck, Roger Bourland, Don Bowyer, John A. Carollo, Mel Mobley, Michael F. Murray, Tim Miller, and Australia’s Margaret Brandman, this album is definitely worth a listen! If you aren’t familiar with Cuban music then this album is perfect for you. It encompasses Big Band music and the guitar.

It’s In the Stars is an absolutely charming piece, the vocals are soothing with an element of simplicity and colour. Another short piece is a gem on this album: Why Do I?. You will definitely imagine yourself dancing on a beach to this music, or perhaps take you to wherever your imagination leads. These colourful pieces don’t make it a bore to listen to, it’s a compilation of works that is a perfect example of short and brilliant artistry.

On An Autumn Day is another quirky and fun piece. The flawless expression and communication between the instruments are impeccable, the solo sections really blend in well with the other instruments.

Life is a Strange Instrument is another underrated work on the album, the melodies are quirky and atonal. This work is almost programmatic, every phrase and nuance has its own purpose in telling a short simple story. You would need to listen to this piece a couple of times to understand and feel what is going on.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone, it is easy listening and the short duration of the works will leave you wanting more.

This amazing collaboration of composers shows how wonderful work can be produced with people who are passionate about what they do. Exciting and extremely colourful, this is the perfect music to listen to on a Sunday afternoon.

– Leslie Khang

Callum HenshawEcho & Return

Callum Henshaw

Rating: 4.5 Stars

There is a certain timbral quality to the classical guitar and a skilled performer can draw so much colour out of this instrument- as is the case on this recoding from classical guitarist Callum Henshaw. Henshaw’s renditions of these pieces are standouts and present a detailed and introspective approach to all of the material on the album. In Granados’ Valse Poeticos each musical phrase and line is deeply considered and the detail is bought to the fore at all times. Ponce’s Variations sur Folia de Espana et Fugue demonstrated Henshaw’s subtle shading and nuance that accentuate the finer inner workings of the piece. Henshaw’s crackerjack technique shines in Coste’s Le Depart as each phrase unfolds in a perfect coalescence of sound. In particular P
eter Sculthorpe’s From Kakadu presents a somewhat haunting lament and imagination of Kakadu and in Henshaw’s hands the broad landscape is made apparent in the way space is considered throughout. Samuel Smith’s Bleed-Through. provides a textural palette through which the guitar weaves in and out of displaying a contrast of colours. Overall, a stand out album from a young musician who has a lot to offer.

-Samuel Cottell

Handel In Rome 1707.jpgHandel in Rome 1707

The Ghislieri Choir & Consort

Giulio Prandi, conductor


Rating: 5 Stars 

Conductor of the Ghislieri Choir & Consort founded in 2003, Giulio Prandi graduated from the Italian Universities of Pavia and Milan and has developed an expertise in Italian sacred music of the eighteenth century. Dixit Dominus is Handel’s psalm setting consisting of 20 solo and choral tracks. The work completed in April 1707 while Handel was living in Rome is written for five singers with a second soprano part, chorus, strings and continuo. The work was premiered on 16 July 1707 in the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto. At the very end of 1706, not yet 22 years of age, George Frideric Handel arrived in Rome.

“Having shown off his skills to the amazement of everyone” on the organ of St John Lateran the young talent from beyond the Alps immediately established himself in the lively cultural fabric of the city. The compositions recorded on this CD here gave rise to the earliest masterpieces by the Saxon, as German musicians were often called in Italy.

By the first weeks of the year, Handel was already caught up in a dense network of aristocratic patronage and found himself play the dual roles of composer and performer at the keyboard in a plethora of occasions when he worked alongside such established colleagues as Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti.

There is no doubting that members of the Choir and Consort produce a quite exquisite ambience of sound, the textures are pure and always balanced, the rhythm forward thrusting, crisp and persuasive. We will look forward greatly to hearing more from these musicians.

– Emyr Evans

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