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Philip Lashley : Abstractions : Bergmann

Updated: Jun 5, 2022

Philip Lashley

Bergmann Edition: 14 pages

Indianapolis – born Philip Lashley has written a number of works of the years, none of which I have managed to come across before. This is a set of five works under a general title that I take to mean that they are simply music, and not meant to be a description of anything pictorial .Fair enough!

My initial reaction to them is that they are very musical, and yet they don’t sound like anything I have played before; there are no patterns that you have seen multiple times before, which of course can only be a good thing!

No1 is a moving and tragic sounding Adagio with very interesting part – writing and completely individual harmonically speaking, whilst remaining entirely tonal, and a lovely start to the set.

No2 is more acerbic and has a number of unexpected semi – quaver runs that take you into musical areas that constantly surprise, eventually leading to a climactic chordal run up the fretboard followed by an angular slide down again, and two suddenly quiet indefinable chords, and that is the close.

No3 has a repeating pattern of two low alternating pairs of bass notes, and a very serious melody atop this. This one has a very funereal sound to it.

No4 is an Andantino, but immediately has a skittish quality to it, with plenty of hammer – ons and pull – offs, and nothing is allowed to sit still even for a moment, with all the voices constantly on the move.

The final No5 is even more bizarre in harmonic qualities than the previous, and cavorts around the frets like a drunkard, though this is definitely not a criticism, but more an attempt to let players know roughly what they are in for, should they get hold of this work! It is harmonically utterly unique, and like the rest of the movements, sounds absolutely nothing like anything else you may have tried.

I loved this set, so cleverly written, utterly guitaristic from start to finish, but occupying its own little sound world that makes it so fresh sounding. Nothing is very easy, and you have to be familiar with all the frets on all the strings to not struggle to get this to sound right!

Chris Dumigan

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