SIBELIUS : Finlandia Op26: BACH: Overture from Orchestral Suite in D Major BWV 1068; Fuga from Chromatic Fantasy BWV 903; Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland BWV 659; Toccata ( Dorian) BWV 538: VILLA – LOBOS: Choros No5 ‘Alma Brasileira’ : ALBENIZ : Asturias (Leyenda) : SCRIABIN: Preludes Op11 Nos 4, 7, 10, 15 & 24: MARQUEZ : Danzon No2
Great Necks Guitar Trio
The Great Necks Trio comprises Scott Borg, Adam Levin, and Matthew Rohde, and this CD has some most fascinating arrangements, starting with something I have never heard on guitars before, Sibelius’ Finlandia Op26. The long chords of the opening are here done with rasgueado chords, an idea I would never have thought of. As it stands once you get over the shock of it, it works quite well, although I did spot a few actual wrong notes 4 or 5 minutes in, which seem to be intentional, but nevertheless they are almost certainly wrong. However, that said, the arrangement does really work, and it opened my eyes as to how Sibelius could be interpreted on guitars!
With J.S. Bach you are in more familiar territory on guitars, although again this particular Orchestral Suite No3 is a rarity unless you consider the Air, which is the movement usually heard, if at all, on guitar(s).The Overture sounds fabulous and does fit beautifully on three guitars, and there is some wonderful playing and interaction between the three players here. I would like to hear the rest of it now! Then we move onto a more unusual side of Bach, the Fuga from the Chromatic Fantasy BWV 903, as demonstrated in the opening chromatic run on the first guitar. Again it works beautifully and effortlessly on the guitars and sounds as if it was originally written for the instruments. There is some wonderful playing here again too with the unfolding drama of the writing really coming out. The next work, Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland is from a Cantata , and is serene and beautiful and in direct contrast to the helter – skelter of the previous. A lovely contrast. The final Bach work here is back to the hurly –burly and the very fast contrapuntal runs and interaction, and as such the Toccata (Dorian) is another great performance and finishes off this quartet of Bach pieces fabulously well.
Then comes a complete change of style in the 5th Choros from Villa – Lobos, all of them written for different instruments, and No5 was originally a piano work. The gentle character of the opening and the conclusion fits wonderfully well on the three guitars, as does the bizarre disjointed middle section and if you only know the guitar solo Choro No1 then you should acquaint yourself with the others, including this lovely arrangement.
They start the Albeniz Leyenda with some atmospheric sounds before getting to the actual piece that we all know. There are to my ears, several points where certain additions take place that aren’t on the original score, but they do add to the mystery and slightly unnerving sound that is created. This is a Leyenda you haven’t heard before, and I love the spooky horror movie ending!
The next five pieces are from the Russian pianist and composer Alexander Scriabin, again a rarity on the guitar! The opening Prelude No4 is slow and harmonious and beautifully rendered. No7, is an Allegro Assai, very short, with a moving set of harmonies and again fits really well onto the guitars. No10 is not much longer, and it’s an Andante with a momentary climactic section in the middle and a beautiful ending.No15 is another Lento whose harmonies rock backwards and forwards topped by an emotive long noted melody, and a clever harmonic section to finish. The final No24 is a Presto that hurtles along and provides a fitting conclusion to this set of 5, and indeed the whole set of 24 when you witness the entire set on the original piano.
The final work is by the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez and is the most popular by far of his 9 Danzons, having been popularized on Classica FM and the BBC Proms in the last few years in its original orchestral guise. The guitars manage it beautifully and it is a wonderful conclusion to what is (with my one noted exception in FInlandia) a really marvelously played, and recorded CD full of very contrasting pieces , none of them originally written for the guitar, and all sounding like they in fact were written for 3 guitars. Don’t let my one slightly off- key note put you off trying this CD out, because it really does have some music you will not have heard elsewhere on 3 guitars.