About this Recording
8.573487 - Guitar Recital: Süalp, Eren - ERDENER, T. / BROUWER, L. / SÜALP, E. / BAYRAKTAR, E. / OCHOA, L. / DODGSON, S.

Eren Süalp: Guitar Recital
Turgay Erdener • Leo Brouwer • Eren Süalp • Ertuğrul Bayraktar • Luis Ochoa • Stephen Dodgson


This recording, with contemporary music from Turkey, Venezuela, Cuba, and England, presents the guitar in many colours and moods. The classical guitar is a truly cosmopolitan instrument nowadays with composers from many countries writing superbly and transcending national boundaries with the appeal of their music. Guitarists are adept at presenting the music of the international community without a sense of incongruity or inappropriateness as varied cultures come together within a programme.

Turgay Erdener (b. 1957) has taught analysis, composition and harmony at the Ankara State Conservatoire since 1979. As a contemporary Turkish composer he has written a considerable amount of incidental scores for stage presentations, operetta and ballet, a number of works for orchestra, as well as chamber and vocal music, and instrumental pieces.

Five Grotesques are full of musical surprises, twists and turns, hence the ‘grotesque’ element. Quasi una marcia, for example, is a light parody of a march, the gestures being jerky and humorous rather than martial. Allegro energico is similarly witty with unexpected textures following quickly one after the other. A middle section offers a contrasting song-like aspect before the reprise of the first section. Molto calmo begins as a Spanish-like melody but the mood changes with an infusion of pizzicato harmonics. A short contrasting episode follows before the return of the harmonics. Vigoroso has strong momentum embellished with unexpected splashes of colours and turns of phrase. Allegro provides a spirited finale with inspired rhythms, snatches of melody, pedal notes, and occasional ethereal harmonics.

Leo Brouwer (b. 1939) from Cuba is acknowledged as one of the most challenging and innovative of contemporary musicians. His compositions range from solo guitar pieces to symphonic works, including concertos, chamber music, and many film scores. His prolific output for guitar has developed through various styles embracing the avant-garde and the experimental, as well as neo-romanticism. Sonata, composed in 1990, is dedicated to Julian Bream who gave the première of the work on 27 January 1991, at the Wigmore Hall, London.

The following comments are based on Julian Bream’s note about the piece. The three movements take their unity from a thematic idea introduced at the beginning of the composition, a motif of eight notes with the interval of a major second and minor third. Fandangos y Boleros begins with a short preamble which leads on to the first subject. The second subject is in dotted rhythm accompanied by a double octave pedal. Following the development section, the coda quotes fragments from Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral. The theme from the first movement appears occasionally in the Sarabanda de Scriabin but with different harmonies. By re-tuning the lower string from E to F, contrasting tone colours are achieved. La Toccata de Pasquini offers the opening theme adding several intervals of the second and third. Brilliant figurations and arabesques give way to a brief return to the slow movement before the opening music is heard once more.

Eren Süalp’s Raindrops is an impressionist poem utilizing the guitar’s natural sonorities to evoke atmosphere. The work begins with evocation of the beginning of rain, the deployment of harmonics being significant in the creation of the mood. As the raindrops fall more profusely, the tremolo technique enters, followed by a return to sensitive harmonics as the gentle shower comes to an end.

Ertuğrul Bayraktar, born in 1951 in Samsun, a Black Sea port on the north coast of Turkey, is a composer whose work includes orchestral and choral pieces, film scores, songs and instrumental compositions. Six Anatolian Pieces are guitar arrangements of traditional Turkish songs and dances. These range from plaintive folk-melodies such as Ham Meyva (Raw Fruit), Naz Barı (Shyness) (a famous anonymous Turkish melody played here with occasional use of the tremolo technique) and Odam Kireçtir, to lively dances including Süpürgesi Yoncadan (Folk Tune), Halay (Folk Dance), and Madımak (Knotweed) evoking images of swirling dancers. Here the guitar imitates some of the characteristics of the Turkish plucked instruments such as the long-necked lute, the bağlama, yet at the same time remains itself.

Luis Ochoa (1959–2014) from Aragua State, Venezuela, won first prize in the X International Guitar Composition Competition ‘Michele Pittaluga’ 2012, against 116 other competitors with Path of History. The composition is a set of variations which traverse the centuries, each era being marked in the score. The composer’s aim in writing this work was to produce ‘a tribute to western musical history and to the guitar in particular’ and to offer ‘not just a creation that could satisfy my own creative language, my own quest as a composer, but to pay homage to other composers, as well as to history and music’.

The variations begin with a medieval dance theme, evolving into a renaissance lute dance. Next comes a baroque dance, marked maestoso, a tempo, followed by ‘classicism’, an Allegro vivo passage in the style of Giuliani and Sor. Romanticism is covered with a valse cantabile but the variations move on into ‘Spanish Modernism’, con fuoco, with Andalusian rhythms, quasi-flamenco scale runs, and strummed chords. Next is ‘atonalism’, instantly recognisable by its asymmetric rhythmic patterns. This section ends with ‘marimba effects’ achieved by tapping the strings high up on the fingerboard. The finale is Latin America, marked Allegro, sempre a tempo, and based on Caribbean music. This is an ingenious chord sequence, virtuosic in technique, concluding with a rapid scale passage and a further valedictory tapping on the soundboard at the bridge.

Stephen Dodgson (1924–2013), an English composer born in London, was not himself a guitarist but achieved an international reputation for writing many guitar works, both solo and ensemble, with understanding and immense sensitivity. His other compositions included song settings, orchestral pieces, concertos, chamber music, and instrumental music for piano, harpsichord, harp, etc.

Partita No.1 for guitar was given its first performance by John Williams at the Cheltenham Festival on 4 July 1963. Its four movements create a truly contemporary work of a totally original kind at a time when precedents for progressive modern compositions for the instrument were remarkably restricted.

The piece begins in a unique style never heard before on the guitar. Dodgson’s complex modulations lead in this movement to the key of E minor, a straightforward and obvious choice on the guitar. Yet the progression from the first chord is an ingenious journey by way of remote keys. The second movement, Molto vivace, is an exploration in contemporary terms of the traditional guitar technique of playing a melody over an Albinoni bass.

The slow movement, Adagio, presents a poignant theme over expressive harmonies. Though the overall impression is of a lucid clarity, this is a very intricate score requiring immaculate technique from the performer. The fourth and final movement indulges in inspired strumming, though the harmonies are quite distant from Spanish precedents. The chordal opening bars develop a lively momentum with all kinds of varied metrical combinations.

Graham Wade

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