Ian Gammie : The Lorelei and Estribillo
Corda Music Publications: 8 pages
Ian Gammie is not only a performer on guitar but also the viola da gamba and is a teacher and publisher to boot, with a myriad of publications behind him, but I had never previously come across anything of his, as he apparently never sent any items to CG ( where I used to review ) for decades!
The first of this pair of pieces is based on the poem Die Lorelei from 1822, which was then set to music by the folksong collector Philipp Friedrich Silcher, and this piece is a set of variations on that tune. My first thought when playing it was how much internal movement there is in the part writing, constantly flowing in one part or the other , and never letting you sit around while playing, as it keeps you on your toes. His style of writing is quite individual I feel, and didn’t remind me of anyone else at all, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but he doesn’t make things very easy for the player in a few areas! The opening theme is a 6/8 Allegretto in D with a dropped D 6th, and it stays firmly around root position. That is not to be said for the 1st variation which although marked Meno Mosso is leaping around the higher frets from one chord to another, even , at one point , as high as fret 1. Again the three main voices are constantly changing and the invention here is remarkable, as is literally doesn’t feel like any other guitar pieces I have seen before, yet remains perfectly guitaristic. The 2nd Variation is back to the opening tempo, but now in significantly smaller notes and still chord- driven, whilst the 3rd is marked Scherzando and really moves along. Then the 4th, which is marked Academico is a lot calmer and in two voices for part of the time, before an allargando takes us into the final and 5th variation which is a tremolo two-voiced conclusion to this very interesting work.
Estribillo is firmly a dance in style, and very Latin in its harmonies. The groupings of 8 quavers in the bar changes from 3, 3, 2, to 2, 3, 3, and a number of other rhythmic patterns so you have to be a decent player to get the correct feel to this. The middle section changes from Allegro to Andantino and moves from D to G Major but still has the voices consistently moving around in a very convincing style, but again, nothing here is even remotely easy to play! The inner harmonies are often moving around considerably too and so great care is needed at times. The coda is imaginative and adventurous at the same time and brings this fun piece to a good close.
Both these pieces have lots to say, and Gammie’s writing style is effortless but unlike anything else I have come across, whilst remaining melodic and involving. Worth getting your hands on!