Reviews

GMCD 7347 – Guitar Works by Rodrigo, Turina, Boccherini, Assad, Gnattali, Regondi, Derungs, Wettstein, Senfl

Admir Doçi – guitar, Leila Pfister – mezzo

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Schweizer Musikzeitung – Februar 2012

Vor wenigen Jahren betrat ein junger albanischer Gitarrist die Konzertbühne. Mit seinen knapp 30 Jahren ist Admir Doçi schon vielfach ausgezeichnet worden. Und um es vorwegzunehmen: Mit der neuen Einspielung Guitar Works werden nur jene enttäuscht, die eine reine Solo-CD erwartet haben. Zwar sind einige Solowerke darauf zu hören wie etwa Martin Derungs’ Elegie für 13-saftige Gitarre, jenes Instrument, das Doçi zu einem der innovativsten Gitarristen seiner Generation macht. Doch den erheblichen Teil bilden Duette mit namhaften Musikern wie der Mezzosopranistin Leila Pfister, dem Cellisten Mattia Zappa, Martin Derungs am Cembalo oder dem Blockflötisten Matthias Weilenmann. Hierin zeigt sich Doçi von einer Vielseitigkeit und stilistischen Sicherheit, die nie darauf aus ist, affektiert wirken zu wollen. Als Duettpartner stellt er sich angenehm fügsam in den Dienst der Musik, wie etwa in Joaquin Rodrigos Tres canciones españolas oder dem berühmten Aranjuez, ma pensée. Erstaunlich dann der Kontrast zu vier Werken des Schweizer Renaissancekomponisten Ludwig Senfl, von Doçi arrangiert für Blockflöte und Gitarre. Auch dies musikalisch durchwegs überzeugend. Was für ein Lautenist Doçi doch auch geworden wäre, denkt man da unweigerlich. Macht nichts, der junge, in Zürich ausgebildete Gitarrist ist eh schon ein Musiker mit einer beeindruckenden Expressivität und künstlerischen Reife, die bei aller Sicherheit stets nachdenklich wirkt. Doçi ist ein Diener seiner Sache und nicht seiner selbst, ein junger Meister seines Instruments, von dem man zweifellos noch viel hören wird, ja hören muss. Auf eine baldige reine Solo-CD muss man hoffen. Doch der vorliegende Tonträger bietet nicht nur eine äusserst abwechslungsreiche Musik für Gitarre, sondern auch hervorragende Klangqualität und eine perfekte Balance zwischen den verschiedenen Duo-Partnern.
Christoph Greuter

American Record Guide – September / October 2011

Albanian guitarist Admir Doci plays solos songs, and chamber music, so there is a nice variety. I enjoy performances like this, and wish there were more of them. Doci is a fine player, based in Switzerland, and his partners are also fine. He opens with four songs by Rodrigo and mezzo Leila Pfister. She has a rich, dark sound that’s ideal for this music, though she never overpowers the guitar. ‘Aranjuez, ma Pensee’ is arranged from the concerto by Rodrigo. The text is by Victoria Kahmi, the composer’s wife. It’s undeniably beautiful, but I can’t help feeling that hearing the music out of context is disappointing. The Boccherini is a Bream arrangement of the last movement of his most popular quintet. It’s effective, if a bit anachronistic, and it’s played with real joy. Martin Derungs is both harpsichordist here and a composer, and his Elegie for guitar solo, is haunting and mysterious.
This is the third performance I’ve heard of Radames Gnattali’s sonata for guitar and cello. I reviewed an all-Gnattali disc (J/F 2011) by Marc Regnier and cellist Natalia Khoma on Dorian. That remains my favorite performance, but this is almost as fine (as is the performance of Goluses and Tayor on viola—see Night Strings below). Gnattali is Brazil’s most important composer after Villa-Lobos, and it’s good to hear more of his music. The sonata is one of his finest works. The first and third movements use unusual groupings of beats (such as 9/8 as 2+2+2+3), and II is deeply expressive. I liken the work to what Prokofieff might have written if he’d been born in Brazil. Doci is as strong as a soloist as he is in chamber music. The Turina, Assad, Regondi, Derungs. and Wettstein are all excellent performances, and he’s mastered the varied idioms convincingly. The closing set is quite unusual—four Lieder by Ludwig Senfl, a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, Heinrich Isaac’s pupil, best known for his secular German songs and for his sacred music. He is a master of his age, and the melodies are ably played on recorder by Matthias Weilenmann. It’s a surprising and delightful end to an inventive and enjoyable program.
KEATON

MusicWeb International February 2011

Guild is a Swiss label, and, wholly reasonably, this release features many Swiss musicians: composers Regondi, Derungs, Wettstein and Senfl, and the four excellent ‘duettists’ named above. And although star guitarist Admir Doçi is Albanian, he did study, graduate and perform widely in Switzerland.
Those composers who are not Swiss all have some connection with Spain or its old empire in South America, and these make up the first half of the programme.
Guitarophiles will be very familiar with Turina’s Sevillana, op.29, and admirers of Spanish music will also know Rodrigo’s fleeting 3 Canciones Españolas, at least in their original version for voice and piano. Even more will recognise the spine-tingling Aranjuez, Ma Pensée as an arrangement of the famous second movement of the Concierto de Aranjuez. But how many will know that Rodrigo himself did the rewriting, in his 87th year no less, to a text by Victoria Kamhi – who also arranged the folk material for the 3 Canciones?
Apart from the opening ten or so minutes of Rodrigo, the CD is purely instrumental, with Doçi’s guitar appearing either as a solo instrument, or in duos with harpsichord, cello or recorder. And indeed, as can be deduced from the shortness of many of the works, and the chronological variety of the composers, this disc is primarily a showcase for the talented Doçi, who is currently Professor of Guitar in Tirana.
Sérgio Assad’s Valsa de Outono (Autumn Waltz) and Peter Wettstein’s Skizzen (Sketches) are both shortish solo pieces. Wettstein is Swiss and Assad Brazilian, and their ‘sounds’ are as different as might be expected, even in these relatively nonchalant works. Skizzen opens with an impressive ‘drum roll’. Radamés Gnattali, despite the Italian look of his surname, is also Brazilian, and once again the South American influences shine through in his Sonata for Guitar and Cello, though perhaps sounding more Argentinean than anything, particularly in the first movement. This is probably the finest work on the disc, with expressive playing from both Doçi and cellist Mattia Zappa.
Boccherini’s Fandango is the much-arranged one from his D major Guitar Quintet G448 (itself an arrangement by Boccherini of an earlier work!), in a witty version by Julian Bream for guitar and harpsichord. Martin Derungs is a Swiss harpsichordist and composer and appears twice on the disc, once in each capacity – first in the Boccherini, and then when Doçi plays his Elegie, op.59, an unusual, slightly unsettling work, and probably the best for solo guitar on the CD.
The longest work for solo guitar featured is Giulio Regondi’s Introduction et Caprice, op.23. As well as a guitarist, Regondi was famed in his time as a concertina virtuoso, and that somehow seems to come out in this warm, lilting piece.
To a broader public, Ludwig Senfl is probably the most well-known Swiss name of all those appearing here. He is represented by three arrangements by Doçi for guitar and recorder, inconsequential but nevertheless pretty. The last item is also an arrangement by Doçi, this time of a folksong, but sounding quite a lot like Senfl.
Sound quality is splendid throughout, and the booklet informative, though some of the text is very small. In sum, by no means an essential purchase, but Doçi’s flawless guitar playing and the imaginative, melodious programme lend this CD wide appeal, and make it a pleasant way to spend an hour.
Byzantion
Flawless playing and an imaginative, melodious programme lend this CD wide appeal. A pleasant way to spend an hour.

International Record Review December 2010

The Albanian guitarist Admir Doçi performs regularly in ensemble and as a soloist. Here he is accompanied by four musicians with whom he has established duos, thus the musical understanding between the artists and their performance is consistently very good throughout the recording. The Swiss mezzo Leila Pfister is the vocalist in the short Rodrigo songs. `Adela’ (Tres canciones españolas) has a simple beauty which springs from its economy of composition. The guitar part is transparent but with a depth that immediately captures the attention; it has the effect of a soothing lullaby, particularly as Doçi elicits a warm and intimate tone from the guitar. Although one can appreciate Pfister’s attractive voice, I was disappointed that the words are unclear. `Aranjuez, ma pensée’ is a song setting from the second movement of the ever-popular Concierto de Aranjuez. The guitar part is almost intact and the vocal lines are often borrowed from those of the car anglais in the orchestral version. In Boccherini’s Introduction and Fandango Doçi matches the spirit of Martin Derungs’s richly coloured harpsichord part in a performance full of fiery fandango spirit, despite having significantly fewer strings on his instrument. The blending of the timbres of guitar and harpsichord is so compellingly achieved that it repays repeated listening. Julian Bream arranged it for guitar and harpsichord from Boccherini’s Quintet, Op. 50 No. 2(1788). He performed it regularly in concert and recorded it in 1968 with George Malcolm. The variety of the programming, with the change in ensemble partners, and solo repertoire is enjoyable, but the move from the Boccherini to the contemporary Brazilian composition Valsa de outono by Sérgio Assad feels a little abrupt This is a lyrical solo guitar piece, with autumnal falling melodic lines, over a base of jazz idioms and popular Brazilian rhythms. More Brazilian music follows with Radamés Gnattali’s Sonata for guitar and cello (1969), performed very attractively with Swiss cellist Mattia Zappa. This three-movement work is well written for both instruments, pitting pizzicato on the cello alongside the plucked guitar strings in the Allegretto comodo, with an expressive Adagio and a return to Brazilian rhythms in the final Con spirito movement. Giulio Regondi’s Introduction et caprice for solo guitar leads gently into two contemporary solo works written for Doçi: Elegie, Op. 59 for solo 13-string guitar by Derungs (b.1943) and Skizzen (1981) by the Swiss composer Peter Wettstein (b.1939).Skizzen has a more confrontational, avantgarde flavour, but both pieces leave space for contemplative musical thought. Doçi’s 13-string guitar is a replica of that of the Swedish guitarist Anders Miolin, with whom he studied in Zurich. It was designed and built by the Swiss luthier Ermanno Chiavi in collaboration with Anders Miolin. Not only are there an additional seven strings added to the standard six-string concert guitar but there is an extended fingerboard which includes 24 frets, giving the instrument a range of five octaves, as opposed to just three-and¬a-quarter. The disc concludes serenely with four pieces by Ludwig Senfl (1486-c1542). They have been well transcribed by Doçi for recorder (played by Matthias Weilenmann) and guitar. The guitar is very well recorded throughout and the difficulties of achieving balance between the different soloists are overcome smoothly. An adjustment of volume was required only when Turina’s Sevillana for solo guitar came booming out. The informative booklet notes by Robert Matthew-Walker are in English and German. Doçi has released two previous recordings, this third shows him to be an excellent musician with a broad musical experience which should ensure his success in the future.
Thérèse W Saba