About this Recording
8.573765 - Guitar Recital: Herbig, Gunter - PAINE, B. / BARTÓK, B. / FARQUHAR, D. / ELMSLY, J. / RIMMER, J. (Dream Weaving - New Zealand Guitar Music, Vol. 2)

DREAM WEAVING: New Zealand Guitar Music • 2
Bruce Paine • Béla Bartók (arr. D. Farquhar) • David Farquhar • John Elmsly • John Rimmer


New Zealand’s flourishing culture of the classical guitar has its roots in the late 1950s when Ronald Burt (1928–2007), painter and guitarist, emigrated from England and began to teach the guitar in Wellington. Such was his influence that several New Zealand composers, including Douglas Lilburn and David Farquhar dedicated works to him. The growing guitar tradition was invigorated when in the 1960s Emile Bibobi (1917–1993), a player and teacher of international status, settled in Auckland. Some years later the British virtuoso, John Mills (b. 1947) taught for three years at the Nelson School of Music and similarly consolidated the instrument’s popularity throughout the whole country.

Other leading concert performers such as Julian Bream included New Zealand in their itinerary during these years. In the late 1980s, the guitarist Gunter Herbig emigrated to New Zealand and it is appropriate that he should be the first artist to record in depth the guitar music of pre-eminent composers who enriched New Zealand’s musical life in the modern era.

Bruce Paine gave his first guitar performance aged eleven at Wesley Intermediate School, Auckland, but it was another fourteen years before he embarked on full-time study of the classical guitar at Auckland University. Having duly completed a Diploma in Music, he attended the 1995 Darwin Guitar Festival, participating in master-classes with John Williams and Stepan Rak. Since that time Bruce Paine has built up a considerable reputation as a concert artist within New Zealand, giving many solo recitals and performing with leading orchestras. He has also played concerts in Austria, the Czech Republic and Great Britain. Bruce Paine has made various recordings including a collection of his own guitar compositions drawing inspiration from such diverse images as underwater sea life, New Zealand scenery, an English country church and a Russian folk poem. As a classical guitar composer he aims to write original, imaginative, and accessible music.

Finchdean a small village in Hampshire, England, represents a settlement dating back to the Middle Ages. A mile to the north is the village of Idsworth and its historic church with fine medieval paintings. The composition evokes a pastoral and slightly mystical atmosphere with fragments of lyrical melody and expressive arpeggios.

Dream Weaving refers to the shamanic practice by which dreams are harnessed to create images of improving life and existence, linking the subconscious and the waking self. The Hopi Native Americans of northern Arizona, for example, have special shamans who dream weave the kind of world they wish to create for their grandchildren. The composition, ‘inspired by the Scottish folk-song, Peat Fire Flame’, thus has a dream-like quality of fantasy and inwardness, interspersed with moments of silence and moving towards episodes of increased tension as well as spiritual quietness.

Circle Dance celebrates one of the oldest dance styles where people join hands and form a circle, commemorating such aspects as the changing seasons, communal rituals, and the joys of social participation. Bruce Paine’s composition begins gently, increasing in intensity as the dance progresses. A lyrical middle episode features moments of introspection with short melodic phrases followed by a recapitulation of the opening mood.

Béla Bartók (1881–1945), Hungarian composer and pianist, is one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century and needs little introduction here. His enormous output of compositions includes orchestral pieces, concertos, operas, choral works, chamber music, many songs, a host of compositions for piano, and much else. His four volumes of short piano pieces entitled For Children, originally comprised eighty-five pieces, each based on a folk-tune. The first two volumes contain Hungarian themes while the last two volumes are Slovakian folk melodies. David Farquhar arranged a selection for guitar, surely the first transcriptions of these delightfully picturesque creations.

David Farquhar, a student of Douglas Lilburn before going to study at Cambridge University and the Guildhall School of Music, London, took up a post as lecturer at Victoria University in 1953, being appointed professor there in 1976. His compositions, comprising more than one hundred works include operas, symphonies and other orchestral works, choral and chamber music, and song cycles, as well as various instrumental pieces.

A ‘musette’ was originally a French bagpipe of the seventeenth century. This evolved to describe a dance-like piece of pastoral character suggestive of the bagpipe, characterised by a drone bass. David Farquhar’s Musette, written in the composer’s early twenties, is a concise tonal work representative of the gently neo-romantic style of much guitar music of that period.

John Elmsly, born in Auckland in 1952, graduated in mathematics and music at Victoria University of Wellington but later studied composition with David Farquhar and Douglas Lilburn. Between 1975 and 1978 he held a postgraduate scholarship from the Belgian Ministry of Culture. While in Belgium he worked in the electronic music studios with Lucien Goethals. In 1981 he was awarded the Mozart Fellowship at Otago University, Dunedin, and in 1984 became Lecturer in Composition at Auckland University where he is currently Associate-Professor and Head of Composition. His works include orchestral and chamber music, songs, and many instrumental pieces, as well as electronic compositions.

The composer provided the following introduction to his Suite for Solo Guitar (1965), commissioned by and first performed by Gunter Herbig: ‘These pieces are an attempt to explore ways of writing for the instrument that are as rich and colourful as possible without relying on special effects and gimmicks. The first piece is prefatory in nature as suggested by the title. The chords are stated more or less explicitly at the beginning of the piece, the pattern is then repeated but with changes in the order and number of the chords. Melodic fragments appear between the chords and take over as the piece moves to its climax.

‘Circling is written in 9/8, in other words bars with nine fast pulses. These are normally grouped 3+3+3 but there are various other possibilities such as 2+3+4 in various orders, and the piece is an exploration of these rhythmic groupings. There are two main textures, one with many fast short notes and the other where the music uses longer irregular notes within the same rhythmic framework and splits into two layers, one of which consists of a melody in harmonics…

When a guitar string is struck and stopped by a finger along the fretboard, there are effectively two pieces of string which both create a gentle note. The intervals that are generated range from unisons to quite discordant sounds depending on the relative lengths of the two portions of the string. Whispers uses these gentle double-tones (whispers) in combination with remaining open strings to create a delicate melody and accompaniment texture.

‘Roundabout, the final piece of the set, is built on a verse and refrain structure (though the musical material of the refrains begins and ends in a different place each time), and again explores fast moving, rhythmic patterning.

David Farquhar’s Five Scenes, dedicated to Ronald Burt, were first published in the 1970s during a period of great activity among composers for the guitar. The suite was published by Bèrben in Italy under the editorial direction of Angelo Gilardino, who enthusiastically encouraged a body of modern repertoire to be written by more than fifty leading international composers. The nature of Five Scenes is therefore progressive and exploratory of new sounds and textures for the guitar.

Procession begins with rhythmic three-voice chords and percussive effects, developing into six-string chords interspersed with drum rolls. Barcarolle is a quieter, more lyrical work written with a free rhythm (no time signature), quite unlike the usual ‘barcarolle’ effect. The work ends with gentle harmonics. Lullaby, in six-eight rhythm, is also rhythmically varied with haunting fragments of melody progressing to an extended episode in harmonics. Dreaming makes use of sliding tones and microtones in six-eight and nine-eight rhythms. This piece is atonal with ethereal explorations of monodic patterns. Questions presents an extended finale. The question is first posed in the bass, to be answered by open string chords. This develops greater intensity until relieved by chord progressions further up the fingerboard. A coda once more poses questions and answers, the latter this time being in harmonics.

John Rimmer, born in Auckland, completed postgraduate studies after graduating at the University of New Zealand in the 1960s. He was awarded a Doctor of Music degree in 1972 from Toronto. Rimmer taught at the University of Auckland from 1974–99, where he became Professor of Music in 1995. His works, which include stage, orchestra, chamber, choral, piano, and electroacoustic performances, have been performed in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

Hauturu – Where the Winds Rest is a tribute to Little Barrier Island, called Hauturu in the Maori language. The island lies off the north-eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Originally settled by the Maori, the New Zealand government declared the islands a wildlife sanctuary in 1897.

The composition is of an avant-garde nature featuring modernistic effects and techniques enacting the sounds and awesome atmosphere of the island. The work also evokes Hauturu’s Maori past as well as its vibrant presence as a unique environment with many indigenous species of birds and reptiles.

Graham Wade

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