By Florian Magnus Maier, Izhar Elias, Matangi Quartet, and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. By Florian Magnus Maier, Leo Brouwer, Maximo Diego Pujol, and Roberto Sierra. Classical. CD. Naxos #BRI95484. Published by Naxos (NX.BRI95484).
Izhar Elias has produced several successful and imaginative albums for Brilliant Classics. None of them have confirmed to a 'Spanish guitar' stereotype but all have engaged in various original ways with the developing heritage of the instrument during the 19th century, from 'Paisiello in Vienna' (BC95301) to 'Beethoven and the Guitar' (BC94631) to Giuliani's astonishing transcription of Rossini's grand tragedy Semiramide (BC93902). His latest recording brings the classical guitar up to date with works by composers from four different countries; within them may be heard influences from classical music, avant-garde, Caribbean music, Spanish folklore, flamenco, Arabic music, blues, Argentinean tango and even trip-hop and heavy metal: provocative testament to the world's most versatile instrument. The Guernica Suite by Pujol (b.1959) focuses on different aspects of Picasso's painting in six movements, with a tentatively positive conclusion. The Triptych of Roberto Sierra (b.1953) evokes some nocturnal sounds from his native Puerto Rico, including the tropical tree frog as well as a night on the tiles. The three Danzas Concertantes pulse and glide with the rhythms of Leo Brouwer's native Cuba, offset by some astringent harmonies that place the guitar's usual role as purveyor of folkloristic colour under threat. Finally there is the Schattenspiel Suite by Florian Magnus Maier (b.1973), who also plays electric Moog guitar on this recording. Maier pursues a diverse career as a composer, guitarist and vocalist with bands including Alkaloid, Dark Fortress and Noneuclid; this tripartite suite inspired by shadows is his best-known work in the classical tradition, and for this recording he has made a new arrangement for two guitars and string quartet. There is something for everyone on this album: it's essential listening for guitar-music enthusiasts who want to broaden their horizons.