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  • chrisdumigan

Johan Gertz : Kompositioner 1 : CD

GERTZ: Preludium 1 ; Stilla Betraktelse; Trappetyd; Melankolisk Vals; Jakten; Stamningsbilder; Stilla Trollskog; Vals i G; Antydningar; Ett Slags Rondo :

Johan Gertz

Recording available from :

Swedish born Gertz here plays a 6- string and a 13 stringed instrument, which has an incredible depth ( as you might expect with all the extra bass notes!) and plays 10 of his own compositions , one of which (Stamningsbilder) is in four movements.

His harmony style is modern but lyrical throughout, as witnessed by the opening, and very short Preludium 1 and the following Stilla Betraktelse (Quiet Reflection) which are both immediate pieces but inhabit a sound – world that is original from the outset.

Trappetyd (Stair Study) is the first that uses the 13 string guitar, as near the beginning he drops a very low G an octave below the 5th string, amid a vast amount of very short –note runs and arpeggio patterns with a melody above that is very engaging .Nowhere is the modernism of the harmony work allowed to take away the fact that the music is very melodic and beautifully imagined.

Melankolisk Vals (Melancholy Waltz) steers clear of the ‘bass note, and two chords ‘ style that lesser composers might use, but instead the waltz is inhabited by short runs and as one might expect , a mournful melody that is again another fine work that many will enjoy.

Jakten (The Hunt), an extended work of nearly 9 minutes length follows, beginning with a staccato chords idea that leads into a high – pitched running, before a melody appears above the fast arpeggios coloured with very low bass notes. The running patterns are extended and must be difficult to bring off successfully but Gertz manages it very well indeed. A slower more lyrical section that has an almost swing rhythm with some bluesy notes to it then takes over. After this extended section, the opening running idea returns, this time leading to an excited coda and at the close the staccato chords idea returns once more and this haunting work finishes.

Next come the four Stamningsbilder (Lyrical Pictures), an Affettuoso, beautiful in its harmonies and melodies, followed by an exceedingly fast and very short Presto. This in turn leads to a Dolce, full of imaginative ideas that are beautiful and yet utterly Gertz’s own style. The final Energico is exactly what you might expect; full of action and extended sections of very fast notes, and a fitting close to this lovely four – movement suite.

The longest piece on the CD is Stilla Trollskog (Quiet Troll’s Forest), at a little over 10 minutes in length. It begins reflectively with some long – held chords interspersed with little moments of melody work. This gradually picks up speed somewhat but then just as quickly goes into a very quiet section with long – held melodies and sad harmonies, filled with glissandi and other guitaristic techniques that have a noticeable effect on the music’s direction. Towards the end a sadly beautiful section enters that closes the piece, leaving a lasting effect. This is a great piece of writing (and playing!)

Vals i G (Waltz in G) has some note bends at the start, and thus a bluesy, almost jazzy swing style is what immediately makes an impression here. This is again quite different from the other works, but still obviously from the same writer’s pen. This is another standout piece.

Antydningar (Indications) is more difficult to categorise, with moments both reflective and playful in the opening moments. Then a more active melody takes over with staccato notes jumping around the fingerboard alongside it. The beginning section returns varied somewhat leading to the final coda that comes to some sort of a resolution considering the slightly jumpy nature of much of the music.

The final Ett Slags Rondo (A Kind of Rondo) is again very jazz-like in its opening harmonies before a cadenza like section leads to more of the jazz sounds, and in fact at times could be the sort of music that Ella Fitzgerald might have sung to. Then after a considerable time the speed picks up considerably and for a little while it is all action .Then the opening jazz harmonies return for another time this time leading to a new but very active set of arpeggiated harmonies and some new material that really takes the player all over the fingerboard for a considerable time. Once again the speed recedes and the opening idea returns one more time, on this occasion reaching the coda where the piece has a satisfying conclusion that ends on some of the jazz chords.

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of pieces. They are very imaginative, hugely varied in their actual music, and yet modern but approachable throughout. The playing and recording is first –rate too, so any interested listeners will be very happy with what they find here.

Chris Dumigan

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