New Music With Guitar, Vol. 9

The ninth installment of Bridge Records’ New Music With Guitar series presents an interesting program of new guitar music — music that (I think) deserves a place in the repertoire. Guitarist David Starobin has a personal connection with each composer and work, which gives these performances an added depth.

Starobin premiered Richard Wernick’s “The Name of the Game” for guitar and chamber ensemble. When the piece started playing, I thought I was in for a dry, academic atonal work. But that’s not the case. Although Wernick’s piece moves in fits and starts, it actually has a strong tonal center. And once I got used to the language, I began to hear a more lyrical quality in the music.

“Schrödinger’s Cat” by Poul Ruders is a set of 12 canons for violin and guitar that reflect the ambivalence of the title. The work was written for David Starobin, who gets right to the heart of the music. In quantum mechanics, Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment illustrating the paradoxical concept that particles can be in two states simultaneously until observed. So, too, these canons seem to shift back and forth until they suddenly collapse into a final cadence.

Paul Lansky’s 2009 guitar concerto “With the Grain” musically portrays the characteristics of various types of wood grains and was composed for Starobin. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Justin Brown give a credible performance, though the real star is Starobin and his masterful technique. The work is the most tonally conservative of the three, (although I’d think call it more post-tonal), expansive in parts, with a hint of jazz and nod to Copland. A great ending to the album.

New Music With Guitar, Vol. 9 David Starobin, guitar
Richard Wernick: The Name of the Game; Poul Ruders: Schrödinger’s Cat; Paul Lansky: With the Grain”
International Contemporary Ensemble; Cliff Colnot, conductor; Amalia Hall, violin; Alabama Symphony Orchestra; Justin Brown, conductor
Bridge Records 9444


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