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Profundo by Joseph Sullinger
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/12/2017
Filled with passion and pride
Many will know of Joseph Sullinger for his albums Earth Voyage and more recently Adore. Here the artist reveals his classical and more romantic side, and gives us an opportunity to be a part of this quite wonderful performance, with the album Profundo Romantic Music for the Spanish Classical Guitar.
We start with Op. 11: No 2, Menuet in G Minor, which flows with great respect into Op: 11: No 1, Menuet in G Major, listen to the subtle, but profound distinctiveness of both tracks, the slightly serious intent of the first piece is lifted by the major tones of the second, originally produced by Fernando Sor.
Now I have a Spanish guitar in my music room and I wish I could play it half as well as Joseph. As an example of styles listen to Gran Vals; a more pronounced Spanish ethic can be felt here, and Sullinger continues this theme by performing a second track from the artist Francisco Tarrega entitled Tango. Both of these two dance styled compositions really highlight the amazing standard of Sullinger’s exceptional performance.
This next piece will be very familiar to many, it is called Spanish Romance; whilst its originator is anonymous, this is a perfect example of how a nylon acoustic guitar should be played, and Joseph Sullinger performs with style and class on this most blissful arrangement.
This is a moment to sit on the veranda and blissfully chill out with a glass of Sangria, as the tones of Scherzino Mexicano arrive with its calming influence upon our table. There was something so delightfully sun kissed about this one, and while I write, the cicadas join in with their own choir.
We now return to the works of composer Francisco Tarrega for the next two offerings and can be grateful for this most agreeable performance; Sullinger really takes his time and produces a very classy and somewhat moody presentation for Capricho Arabe and then on the short form piece Etude in Em produces something so moving and memorable for us all to enjoy. I found this particular track quite emotive.
So, we now move into the second half of the release and start that journey with a composition originally from the pen of Agustin Barrios Mangore, this one is called Op. 8: No 4 Waltz in G Major. As an arrangement this has great movement and the quality of Sullinger’s performance is a full flowing and extremely cheerful narrative, as only a Waltz could be.
The artist now delivers to us a track from the composer Isaac Albeniz called Suite Espanola, Op. 47: IV. Cadiz. The implementation of this composition is pristine in its technique and in my view this is one of the most technically gifted tracks off the album.
I adored these next two pieces which are Sullinger’s own compositions, one called Romance, which had a perfect romantic resonance with a little emotive energy thrown into the mix, and then on Rocio a slower, but more radiant composition, this is also a track that could cross genres with ease, beautiful performances abound here, and a total pleasure to listen to as always.
When I arrived at the doorway to this piece from Luys De Navaez, I felt a really defined change to a more middle aged based composition. Then when I checked the date of the composer’s life and works, and found that to be between 1490 and 1547, it all made sense. Joseph Sullinger has produced something different and very intriguing with Guardame Las Vacas.
We now move through the last few corridors of this quite stylish release and come across a track from composer Gasper Sanz called Pavana al Aire Espanola. This is one technically brilliant performance and a good deal of patience must have gone into just getting the sound right, yet another wonderfully enjoyable opus of tone.
We now knock on the last two doors of the album and here the musician gifts us a couple of musical presents to take along our way. The first is Sueno, a fluent, melodic arrangement that seems to weave its way across our minds in a pattern so grand and complex. I personally have learned so much from just listening to this master of the acoustic guitar.
We now finish with Pavana, this reminds me of the style of music I love to play on the rocks of our shores here in Cyprus, and Pavana has that sun kissed and peaceful motif about its construction that you just cannot help but fall in love with.
For those of you like me, who love all things guitar, especially acoustic, you will revel in each and every technically brilliant movement of this release. Joseph Sullinger has produced another master piece here for us to all kick back and enjoy. He has produced and manifested into our realm, an album of lovingly created tracks from the Romantic Classical music genre for Spanish guitar and done so with not just technical brilliance, but with a style filled with passion and pride, this is one not to be missed.
Rating: Excellent
Guitare Mystique by Jim Stubblefield
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/7/2017
Jim just keeps getting better!
Acoustically speaking Jim Stubblefield is one of the best in the business, his music has a true flavour and colour and can raise the rhythm’s or soothe the soul and here on his latest release he does both with ease.
You only have to listen to Saint Tropez, the first offering from his latest release Guitare Mystique and you will see why, so fluent and flowing and radiant, the performance here is defiantly sun kissed, the guitars both electric and acoustic work supremely well with the percussion to deliver a perfect opening piece.
As we move to Caravan of Souls we come across a beat driven arrangement that has a deep resonating bass and a magical guitar that draws with ease the narrative of the journey we are on, and at each Caravansary, we stop for water and wipe our brows in the heat of the day. Stubblefield has produced a little slice of perfection here, one that we can admire, one that will leave you jaw dropped at his amazing skills on guitar.
When I walk along our coastline here in Cyprus, sometimes I sit and watch the kingfishers fly across the Azure Ocean, and watch with pleasure the tides of nature take control of the day. The track Azure could easily be a soundtrack for that mental perambulation. There is an emotive deepness within this piece that I adore and a latent power that seems to float in the distance, in what is yet another very classy offering.
I have a weakness for any track that has the word storm in the title; I always feel the subject matter has such potential to produce something amazing. Stubblefield does not let me down on the track Before The Storm, and performs a piece that could easily be the backdrop to November here in the Mediterranean; our season of storms starts then, and like this piece, you can sense them from miles away, and await the roar of thunder and the flash of lightning. Stubblefield uses vocalisations, a rhythmic beat and moody keyboards to create that for us, the guitar is our hand on the tiller in this piece, and safely draws us into a simply amazing composition with sublime genius.
Now I have to be honest here, Jim dropped into our chat room for my Reconnections show and told me the back story behind this piece Café Café. This is Latin chill out at its best, and pays a cheeky tip of the hat to all of those tracks invented by artists that have the word Café in the title somewhere. Anyone for a Latte?
Now we have arrived at the longest song off the album and this one is called Voyager Aeternam. Now I think Aeternam means eternal, if this is so, Stubblefield has manifested something quite brilliant here, as the sound and tempo has that seasoned and ageless feel to it, a journey that lasts forever, the strings (Novi Novog) here add such a wonderful extra dimension to this arrangement.
Moonlight Requiem picks up the tempo very slightly, but has a real mournfulness about its energy, I have been that way recently with the loss of two friends and a family member, and in a way I think this is why this piece spoke to me, this is like a musical dark night of the soul, the strings here are almost eerie and the sombreness of the guitar, adds a true mortal energy to the composition.
Stubblefield is back on familiar terority now with this next piece called Oculus Tempestatis. The artist is in full Incendio mode here and the vocalisations by Moksha Summer were perfect. However don’t be fooled by the guitars, as Stubblefield performs for us on an electric guitar on this one, while the acoustic duties are handed to Stephen Duros, in what is a truly sensational composition.
So we find ourselves at the penultimate doorway of our journey with Jim Stubblefield and come across a track called Rumba Furiosa, Opus 2. This is classic Stubblefield and we even have a duel here with Dan Sistos on the composition. This partnership gives us a really fun number to dance away and tap our feet to.
The last port of call has been reached as we come to the end of the album, but before we go the artist would like to gift us one last musical offering to take along on our way. This present of tone and tune is extremely rhythmic and is called Sueno Pacifico. In a way it feels like we have come full circle, however this upbeat and quite sparkling opus really is the perfect way to leave in truth what has been a really delightful journey to have taken. The electric guitar adds weight to the composition in a Black Magic Woman kind of way.
Guitare Mystique is a breath of fresh air, a magical musical moment we all need from time to time. With each release Stubblefield just keep on getting better and in my view this is the best I have heard so far. This is an album packed with colour, movement, melody and passion, you will also find some of the best guitar based performances you will have heard for ages, which will leave you with only one sensible option, to buy this album as quick as you can and let the contents within, re-energize you as much as it did me.
Rating: Excellent
Irish Mist by Richard Dillon
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/1/2017
A heart felt album
We travelled to the realm of sleep with Richard Dillon on his last release The Land of Nod. This time we traverse the barriers of emotion, love and memory on his latest album Irish Mist. Irish Mist is a tribute to his mother who passed earlier this year.
The beginning of our journey to the emerald isle starts with the mournful, but quite breath taking title track Irish Mist. This powerful and thoughtful composition sets the scene perfectly.
On Mother Ireland, we have a heartfelt moment of solemnity, but one that if you turn away, has a little cheeky sense of fun built in as well. The track Smiles follows and is a light filled opus of gentleness, there is a real childlike quality here that has to be admired.
The curiously entitled My Bed is a Boat entranced me and is one of the most beautiful performances from the album; the dream like quality of the performance is truly charming.
As a pianist in the solo piano genre Richard Dillon, is among many others, in a genre that is jam packed with artists, but Dillon works really hard at establishing his own identity and on Shadows on the Wall that can be seen in stunning evidence. This one comes from his last album The Land of Nod and reminds us all of our childhood, laying in the dark and watching the shadows dance across the night walls of sleep.
We lighten the mood now with the light hearted Freckles, an almost dance like melody runs through this piece, and then we fall head long into the arms of Dancing on the Light, which has a beautiful narrative to its energy, and at times reminds me a little of the work of David Lanz as Dillon creates great movement within this composition.
Almost the alter ego of the previous offering, Dying of the Light gives us a sensitive and emotional performance that is amazingly touching and deeply moving, perhaps even a performance for the end of days.
We now drift with ease in the second half of the album and come across a track called A Different Time, A Different Place. There is something quite cinematic about this offering, but also something very memory filled too and another deeply moving opus can be found here.
On Skye Boat we can really feel the Celtic influence in his new arrangement, in a track that must have many memories for us all. Our musical boat then takes us to the shore, where we can wander in the Wild Mountain Thyme. I once heard the Strawbs perform this song, and I love it as much now as I did then, this is a quite sparkling arrangement from the artist.
There is always going to be a special place in the heart, mind and soul for the person who gave us life, our mothers. Here, on this respectful composition, we have a piece, performed beautifully, with a touch of heart and a glint in the eye, Mothers Eyes is an anthem to all who have cherished us with that motherly love.
The Long Goodbye is a sombre reminder that while life seemingly lasts forever, it is over within the flicker of a flame, and we must make the most of each spark, of each day. Here Dillon plays with his heart on his sleeve and produces a poignant and expressive piece that expresses his feelings perfectly.
We have been on a journey with Richard Dillion to the emerald Isle and through the Irish Mists and now we find ourselves at the penultimate offering on the album called Deidre’s Dance. Once more the artist plays with a musical memory box, and as we listen we may be forgiven for joining in the dance as well, on this very fluently performed composition.
It is now time for us to leave this realm created by Richard Dillion but before we go, he would like to present to us with one last musical gift before we depart, it is called Into the Mines, and it actually contains a sound sample of a lift door to the mines opening at the start. Listen carefully to this one, the narrative draws you in deep, very deep into the mine, until you find yourself digging as well, the strings here really added a great depth to the piece, which was one of my personal favourites off the album.
Richard Dillon has accomplished one of the hardest things to do, and that’s to produce an album in memory of a loved one, but he has turned a heart rendering and emotional situation into a release of cathartic genius. This whole album is played with complete honesty and love and anyone who adores the solo piano genre, will be very eager to make Irish Mist a part of their musical collection.
Rating: Excellent
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