David Starobin – New Music with Guitar 8

David Starobin’s New Music with Guitar series has done much to expand the repertoire for the instrument. Volume 8 continues the same high standards set for composition and performance set by the previous volumes. Only this time it’s personal.

It’s sort of a Bridge family release. David Starobin, in addition to being the featured artist (and one of the composers), is also  the co-founder of Bridge Records. Bridge has long championed the compositions of Poul Ruders, and is releasing an on-going series of George Crumb’s music. And all four composers share the same manager.

That collegial relationship gives the record, despite the disparity in styles, a unified and somewhat intimate-feeling program. (at least to my ears).

The album starts with David Starobin’s “Nielsen Variations” for solo guitar. It’s the most tonal of the selections, probably because of the source material. Starobin is an imaginative composer — especially when he’s writing for his own instrument. A delightful work from start to finish.

Paul Lansky’s “Partita” for guitar and percussion, is quite accessible. Lanksy’s music has a New York City feel to it — not quite Broadway, but quite cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and full of bustling energy.

“Six Pages” by Poul Ruders is just that — six short epigrams. The whole piece only takes about seven minutes to play. Still, these are no slight pieces. Ruders carefully constructs each “page” using minimal music resources to maximum effect.

“The Ghosts of Alhambra” is classic George Crumb. This work for baritone, guitar, and percussion reminds me somewhat of his “Madrigals” and “Ancient Voices of Children.” It has that same atmospheric sound and use of extended techniques that gives Crumb’s music its unique character.

New Music with Guitar, Vol. 8
David Starobin; Paul Lansky; Poul Ruders; George Crumb
David Starobin, guitar
Bridge Records

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