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Kevin Sutton
MusicWeb International, July 2008

CD of the Month

These two well known works composed originally for Pablo de Sarasate are given wonderfully refreshing new clothes in these tasteful and thoroughly idiomatic arrangements by guitarist Lars Hannibal. This is one of the more delightful surprises to cross the desk in some weeks, and it has received the unusual honor of repeated plays in a household that is near capacity with unheard compact discs.

The wonderful delight here is just how well these arrangements work, and how well the orchestral accompaniments suit the guitar. Couple this with the splendidly reverberant acoustics of the recording venues, and the careful balance that is achieved by the recording engineers and you get a completely winsome combination both musically and sonically.

Mr. Sjøgren keeps sheer virtuosity at bay with his abundant good taste, never letting us know that this music actually takes some work to pull off. His tone is warm and with the exception of a rare miss in intonation in the very highest registers, this is playing of immaculate accomplishment and panache. Mr. Hannibal’s guitar tone is full and rich and the two work very well together as an ensemble.

The music itself is pure poetry, and I was thrilled to discover the Fantasie Norvégienne, a work heretofore unknown to me. It is full of sweeping melodies and lush harmonies, replete with crystalline beauty and thankfully devoid of romantic gush. This work alone is worth the price of admission.

Packaging and presentation are long on pretty pictures and short on content. One might have wanted a bit more meat in the program notes, but no matter. The music and these fine performances speak well for themselves, and more information about the music is but a few keystrokes away in this day and age. This recital would be a fine addition to any collection, a wonderful sojourn off the beaten path.



Adrian Corleonis
Fanfare, June 2008

Here’s a valiant notion carried off with aplomb-singing and soaring against rhythmic point—

…Lalo’s snappily inflected lyricism is realized with delicious enjoyment by both artists….

I look forward to hearing from either or both artists again…

Another illustration that it’s the music, not the medium—if entrusting the orchestra’s part to a guitar seems to be pushing it, less emphatic moments, with the instruments evenly matched, demonstrate that it can succeed triumphantly.

Enthusiastically recommended…



Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, May 2008

Here’s one for transcribers. You’ll have a copy of the Symphonie Espagnole somewhere or other on your shelves but I doubt very much that you’ll have come across Lars Hannibal’s arrangement of the work for violin and guitar. Well, here it is, played by the transcriber and his colleague Kim Sjøgren.

It goes without saying that it gives the work the character of a chamber piece and that there are numerous moments that, because of the Iberian affinities of the music, sit well for the guitar—the opening for example is immediately arresting. I’m sure Hannibal would hardly claim that the felicity and subtlety of the wind parts have survived entirely intact—but then doubtless he would counter that his transcription serves a different function.  He and Sjøgren are a well established team and they have been captured in the big acoustic of the Monastery La Cartuja de la Sierra de Cazalla—not a new recording by any means as it was taped back in 1992. The sound tends to swell to fill the acoustic quite dramatically.

Sjøgren is a big boned and big-hearted player who piles on the expression. He’s made a fine recording of the Nielsen Concerto for Chandos. He digs deeply into the string though tonally things aren’t as variegated as they might ideally be. Similarly his bowing is inclined to be quite muscular. He seems to enjoy the arrangement—though in the modern manner he largely abjures expressive finger position changes and portamenti. The whole performance is rather enjoyable; in a way it put me in mind of inter-war recitals in which concertos were piano accompanied. There’s a certain utility to the thing. Hannibal has also arranged the much less well-known Fantasie Norvégienne...This again is an orchestral work that Hannibal has downsized appropriately for guitar and violin. It’s not inappropriate really as, unlike the companion work, you’re highly unlikely to run into this in concert. Violinists of old generally played it in a piano reduction anyway, so Hannibal’s work is well founded here. Once again Sjøgren makes a big sound, explicitly contrasting upper and lower strings in a tonal tussle of wills. Occasionally some of the lower string work is a little hoarse. Otherwise his playing is once again extrovert, with some throbbing vibrato to the fore in the central movement. If you’ve ever come across recordings of the work they’re likely to have been by Thibaud and Ricci.






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11:44:29 AM, 20 April 2014
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