Virtuoso guitarist Stein-Erik Olsen
The explosive revival of the classical guitar in the previous century has been celebrated in innumerable recordings of music, both written for the instrument or arranged for it from other, usually instrumental sources. Most recorded programmes, too often leaning on the same stock of popular items, provide either historical surveys or statements of the guitar´s Hispanic associations. This present recording is unusual and praiseworthy in that it presents only music written for the guitar, by five composers of different nationalities, only one “Hispanic” but non-European. The message is that the guitar, now truly an international instrument, has not only a past but a vital contemporary existence and has acquired a genuinely 20th-century voice.
The prominent guitarist Stein-Erik Olsen here performs and records works by Czech Václav Kucera, Cuban Leo Brouwer, French Jaques Casterede, Norwegian Ketil Hvoslef and John Duarte from the UK. Kucera´s “Diario, omaggio a Che Guevara” is a political document as much as it is a musical piece. This “Diary” records five notional, critical days in the life of its eponymous, revolutionary hero. Brouwer´s “Elogio de la Danza”, with its energetic and punctuated strokes, shows the influence of the innovations of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, while Casterede´s “Hommage aux Pink Floyd”, whose music it celebrates with relentless rhythmic drive, adding force to hypnotic tension, rises to a climax from which it subsides mirroring the absence of a positive ending to the music of so many “pop” and releated groups of today. Ketil Hvoslef´s “Chitarra Solo”, on the other hand, passes through a variety of contrasting moods, and shows its composer´s fondness for exploring the possibilities of small groups of notes. Finally, the jazz musician Duarte´s “Variations on a Catalan Folk Song” bases its variations on the development of small melodic fragments taken from the melody itself, many of which are carefully concealed variants of the original harmonic framework.