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Alison Smith : Poetico : CD

LOVELADY: The Edie Suite; Curlew ; The White Stone; Dreams of a Russian Summer: CHOPIN ( arr Tarrega) Nocturne in Eb Major Op9 No2: MOLLER: Future Hope Op11: BARRIOS MANGORE: Choro da Saudade; Un Sueno en la Floresta: SHEARING (Arr. Lovelady) Lullaby of Birdland: RODGERS/HART (Arr Lovelady) My Romance: TESAR: Four Ballad Stories

Alison Smith

Willowhayne Records : WHR056CD

William Lovelady, respected composer of all manner of music, not just guitar is here nine times on this recording by Alison Smith. The mood of the entire album is lyrical and expressive and the opening set of four pieces by Lovelady, The Edie Suite really captures that mood with their flowing beauty and beautiful harmonies and melodies, and its 12 minutes is a total pleasure. Tarrega’s arrangement of Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb is next, another lovely piece and one that many people will know even if they didn’t know it as this specific title. For a piano piece, it fits remarkably well on our guitar, which as a rule, Chopin usually fails utterly to do, Also there are a few places where Tarrega takes a few liberties with the piece! Two more beautiful works by Lovelady follow Curlew and White Stone. Curlew has a very ear – catching arpeggio as its opening, and which returns several times in between a very sad and reflective melody, that really captures the mood beautifully. White Stone occupies the same sound world, of sadness, and loss, and extremely involving in its beauty. Then after a little while, the music suddenly speeds up and everything takes off, and continues almost non- stop for quite a time until an accelerando leads to a ritardando, and the mood of the opening returns, and leads to the coda. Another riveting listen. Lovelady’s next work, Dreams of a Russian Summer is a waltz and one immediately thinks of Tchaikovsky and his waltzes for his ballets. The mood changes to a darker sound after the opening ideas however, and the waltz rhythm becomes less obvious, until a slower pace brings in another emotive idea so loved by this composer. Then a tremolo idea enters and continues until a link finally brings in the opening waltz. And so the piece closes in the manner in which it began.

Then another composer Johannes Moller, who is a wonderful player too, enters with his Future Hope Op11, which is another emotional piece, full of longing and lovely sounds, always moving in new directions and keeping you guessing but beautiful throughout.

Then there are two pieces by Agustin Barrios Mangore, which for the uninitiated are pieces I know exceedingly well, having transcribed the complete recordings back in the start of the 1980s.Alison takes the Choro de Saudade a tad slower than others I have heard, but that only helps to bring out the emotional sound inherent in the music. Un Sueno en la Floresta , one of Barrios’ most beloved works follows and at nearly 10 minutes is a handful to bring off correctly, especially with most of it being a tremolo piece. To be fair Alison brings it off reasonably well, but the tremolo sound is one I have heard better in other performances.

Then William Lovelady’s arrangement of George Shearing ‘s Lullaby of Birdland brings us out of the emotive mood , that most of the CD before this inhabits. Indeed this fairly swings along with some lovely touches that really made me want to see the sheet music!

Rodgers and Hart’s My Romance, written for Billy Rose’s musical Jumbo from 1935, follows, and is another reflective and beautiful sounding piece, utterly convincing on the guitar, thanks to another arrangement from William Lovelady.

The final set of four pieces are by Milan Tesar , Four Ballad Stories, and are a wonderful conclusion to a stunning group of pieces , beautifully played and recorded, and certainly are amongst some of the most emotional guitar pieces I have ever heard in one place. Also many of them are first performances, and so unless you happen to already have the sheet music, these will be utterly new to you. Let me tell you that they are just lovely. Alison should be proud of herself and anyone who likes their music in this sort of sound-world will really benefit from this CD.

Chris Dumigan

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