The Music of Vladimir Morkov
Les Productions D’Oz: 27 pages
These pieces by Morkov (1801 – 1864) were originally written for the Russian 7 – string guitar tuned usually to a G chord ( D, B, G, D, B, G, D)and therefore a lot of arranging is often needed to be done to these pieces to make them actually work in our tuning .As a result, a lot of composers who wrote for the 7 –string are often unknown to us as their music is frequently not played or heard , except when on the original instrument.
As a result, it is difficult to know exactly what Gorbach has done , and how much he has adapted the originals , although the following sentence perhaps explains some of it .’ Arranging these works for 6 – string guitar I took the liberty of reimagining some of Morkov’s handling of texture, voice leading and in some cases, rhythm and harmony. This was done to facilitate the transition between different tuning systems’. I must confess to finding this a little worrying , because it sounds as if basically everything could have been changed at certain times in a piece, but of course I do not have access to the originals so can’t say for sure how different these versions are from the originals.
However, what we do find in this book is an Adagio in Am, very dramatic and emotive, an adaptation of a piece by Albert Jungmann called Homesickness that is perhaps the best thing in the entire book, then followed by six very technical Etudes that really do task the player to a fair degree, two separate Preludes, and then a set of 24 Preludes in all the keys. Apparently this is the first set of its sort for the guitar and so is an important set in the history of guitar composition, and indeed I found them at times very interesting and quite difficult to get around at times, but I was a little disappointed in the fact that the vast majority of the 24 were in fact made up of pieces written in block chords of 3 and sometimes 4 notes. I looked in vain for more contrast, for example an arpeggio driven piece, or a piece that relied on other technical styles, but nearly all of them were just sets of chords, and little else.
As a historical document the set of 24 Preludes are important works, but I expected more, to be honest. Some of the other pieces earlier on in the book, were very melodic, and more varied in their technique and therefore worth getting to know better. Even the 24 Preludes are fine as technical work-outs , especially in the more obscure keys, so perhaps there is something for everyone here, and I have no doubt that better pieces by this composer no doubt exist.