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  • chrisdumigan

Stuart Weber : The Fifth Row : CD

TELEMANN: Bourree alla Polacca: DVORAK: Humoresques Op101: WEBER: Sacagawea; Spanish Creek; Jefferson Waltz; Toccata – Darkness; Walk Away: WEISS: Lute Sonata No. 18 in D Major: VII. Passacaglia: NEWMAN: Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father: BARTOK: 10 Easy Piano Pieces, Sz. 39, BB 51: No. 5, Evening in the Country: WARD: America the Beautiful.

Stuart Weber

Ravello Records: RR7988

American guitarist Stuart Weber’s playing on this recording is immediately clean and clear and superbly recorded from the outset, so no worries there!

Telemann’s opening track is captured really well and works wonderfully on the guitar, and then the second track takes us in a completely different direction with Antonin Dvorak’s most famous Humoresque that even if you didn’t know who had written it, you would definitely know the melody. A beautiful, and yet quirky piece of writing, it sounds perfectly natural on our guitar.

His own piece Sacagawea is named after the legendary American Indian lady who was very helpful to Lewis and Clark in the late 1700s, and who died at the tragically early age of 24.His moving piece is a lovely work that deserves to be heard more.

Next comes one of Silvius Leopold Weiss’ Lute works, the seventh movement from his Sonata No18 in D. Weiss doesn’t always translate well onto the guitar because of the huge span required in the bass end, but this version by Weber is carefully picked and sounds natural in its guitaristic guise.

Randy Newman’s beautiful and moving song Texas Girl at the Funeral of her Father is very aptly arranged on the guitar and is a beautiful arrangement.

Weber’s second original work Spanish Creek is a fast moving and exciting piece of writing that sounds very difficult, but not in the composer’s hands. This is another fine work by our player and at a little over six and a half minutes the longest piece here, full of rasgueados, harmonics and very fast runs intermingled with interesting harmonies and melodies.

Evening in the Country from Bela Bartok’s Ten Easy Piano Pieces might not seem a piece that naturally fits on the guitar, but having myself arranged a large number of arrangements of Bartok’s folk – inspired pieces onto guitar, I can state how beautiful these works do actually sound on the guitar with their haunting harmonies and melodies, that just occasionally turn somewhere you do not expect, just to keep you on your toes. A lovely piece of arranging!

Jefferson Waltz is another Weber original and has a wonderful melody topping some beautiful harmony work, and some interesting and diverse accompaniment writing that, like his other pieces here, deserve to be heard more, and seen in print!

Toccata (Darkness) , the fourth Weber original is immediately ear catching, being full of hectic repeated chords that don’t let up for the entire piece, underpinned by a frantic melody and some bleak harmonies, and is quite a contrast

His final original work, Walk Away has moments of dissonance and emotional writing from the outset and is perhaps a case of the composer leaving his best work to the last!

The final track is his arrangement of America the Beautiful and a fine conclusion to what is a most rewarding collection of pieces, the great majority of which you probably won’t have heard, but take it from me that they are really enjoyable, and as I said before the playing is immaculate, and the sound beautifully natural and clear. A great album!

Chris Dumigan

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