Sunday, 2 December 2007

More strings than most

Huge thanks to the email correspondent who alerted me to a wonderful series of YouTube clips featuring one of my favourite guitarists - Göran Söllscher - and his very special 11-string alto guitar.

I’ve never played the guitar myself beyond a few exploratory twangs and so speak entirely as a pathetically ignorant listener. (I am at a complete, vacant-eyed loss when people start talking knowledgeably about tuning and scordatura etc etc etc.) But, goodness me, do I know when I respond to what I hear, and Söllscher’s Eleven String Baroque CD is some of the most often played music on my PC’s iTunes collection while I’m working and on my kitchen CD player while I’m not.

I have only one quibble with the album, and that’s that he plays Weiss’s divine Passacaille quite criminally fast (i.m.h.o). In fact (sorry Mr S), but I’ve deleted that Passacaille from my iTunes list. If you’ve never heard this perfect little gem, then please, please listen to Julian Bream’s Baroque Guitar Recital. Bream's version just tears me to bits every time, and I have listened to it approximately 19,435 times.

Söllscher’s not stuck in a Baroque groove by any means. I recently acquired his compelling Schubert for Two – with violinist Gil Shaham – in which the guitar takes the piano part, and for which the accompanying leaflet in which the musicians discuss their approach to the music is unusually (for a CD insert) illuminating.

His Beatles collections - From Penny Lane . . . and Here, There and Everywhere - are clever and fun and demonstrate the kind of boundary-crossing musicianship which always appeals to me.

Having read a comment pointing out that Göran could easily be taken for Eric Clapton’s younger, slimmer, brother, this is now unfortunately a persistent notion which I’m finding difficult to put out of my mind. How can we persuade them to do a session together? Now that could be truly amazing!

(Mind you, given the comprehensive slating poor old Eric was given in yesterday’s Guardian, both as a man and as a musician, that is perhaps debatable – it will be interesting to see how balanced a view tonight’s South Bank Show (11.10 ITV1) does actually offer up: John Robinson’s ‘pick of the day’ summary doesn’t auger well, referring to ‘this deeply unsympathetic man’, his ‘grim self-obsession’ and Lord Melv’s ‘cushy interview’. Well, we’ll just have to watch and decide for ourselves . . . )

Back to Mr Söllscher, and just case Father Christmas is reading this (I am keeping an eye out for a tiny red blob appearing on the North Pole on my Visitor Locations map any day now) - The Renaissance Album is on my Christmas List.

I shall put a particularly large glass of port and a fat mince pie in the hearth on 24/12 and see what happens . . .

Here’s Göran playing Leopold Silvius Weiss’s Fantasie, in a recital in Tokyo in 2005 (and I’ve popped some other clips from the same concert down there on the right in my WeShow video favourites). Enjoy.


60goingon16 said...

Thanks for the introduction to Göran Söllscher, Juliet. Hadn't come across him before but I bet he gets played on R3's Late Junction . . . if not, they'd love him, I'm sure.

Music is definitely in the air at the moment.

Juliet said...

Don't know if Goran has been on LJ, but what a wonderful programme that is! A door into places one would probably otherwise never discover. It's where I found another huge favourite of mine, James Yorkston . I was dozing off one night and suddenly woke to hear him singing (coincidentally) 'I awoke', and I was transported. Came down in the middle of the night and dowloaded the album from iTunes and have since worked my way through the rest of his CDs. Hooray for R3 - its detractors are mainly people who never listen to it!

60goingon16 said...

Yes, you've just described the archetypal Late Junction experience. One wakes up in the middle of all sorts of extraordinary and wonderful things: one night it could be overtone chanting from somewhere in the middle of the Gobi Desert (or similar); the next, some wild Balkan fiddlers . . .

This is where I first heard Julie Murphy and Dylan Fowler and tracks from their Ffawd album. Pure magic. Here's 'Cariad Cyntaf' :

Let me know what you think!