Notes and Editorial Reviews
We know the word Hiraeth - A longing for
that which life can never give - from the harp piece
by Grace Williams which I first heard from the harpist Sioned
Tros y Garreg instantly engages with the listener in
its melancholy slow beauty. Similarly winning, with its pensive
progress, is Gwahoddiad. In both pieces it may be my
failure of imagination but the music shifts in flavour between
Cambrian harp evocation and in-character Iberia. The music is
restful without being bland. I loved
the rustle and breeze shiver
of the start of the Fantasia on Ar Lan y Mor. There is
more tremble and hush in this work than the other two. At times
this Fantasia is not that distant from Myers’ Deerhunter
music. David of the White Rock is heard in a virtuosic
arrangement. Grace Williams’ plangent and subtly-toned Hiraeth
has been arranged from its harp original. It is memorable for
its inconstant shifting motion: subtle and lissom. Robert Smith
was organist and lecturer at the University of Bangor. His Amanda's
Delight pleasingly fuses elements of baroque and cool jazz.
Tomkins' short verse ‘drips’ slowly. Hilary Tann has taken quotes
from Tomkins' A Sad Pavan for these Distracted Tymes and
woven three extracts from it into her A Sad Pavan. There
is, about this, a forbidding sense of mourning in which the
intervening gaps between notes are beautifully calculated to
allow the guitar sound to decay and fall. Gareth Glynn's orchestral
works have appeared on various light music collections over
the years. His Olwyn Ddwyr is from his suite for solo
harp, Child's Play. It is angular and spare - more objective
than its disc companions here. It is not lured by the sentiment
of the other tracks. The piece by Cardiff-based Simon Thorne
weaves silence and sometimes dry sounds to make this the most
unusual of the works here as well as almost the longest original
composition featured. Written originally for cello it is obsessive,
chiming with muted resonance. The nagging Teifi's Dream
is not self-indulgent but is delicate and elusive,. It ends
52 minutes of the most beautiful playing.
There is a reviving freshness about these arrangements and it’s
far distant from the Welsh equivalent of tartanry. One can see
Cousins moving to an O’Carolan album at some point.
The other disc - A Gift - alights on various compositions
for guitar from the widest international span. Yoshimatsu might
be known to you from his various orchestral discs issued by
Chandos. Wind Color Vector is restful and betokens calm
through the carillon clarity of the guitar. It's a lovely piece
and part of a larger sonata (Wind, Water and Sky). Canticle
is in much the same pulse-stilling vein. It comes as part
of a late addition to the tripartite sonata Earth.
The guitarist’s own Elystan or Noblestone relates
to the image of an ancient lone stone which has seen so much
down the ages but which cannot recount what it has witnessed.
It reminded me at times of the equally compelling and attractive
Fantasia on Alan y Mor on the Hiraeth disc.
Cousins’ July 18 is a study of odd time-groupings - very
sparse and quiet and ruffled with flurries of sound. A Gift
by Robert Jacob was salved by Cousins from Jacob's computer
after the composer’s untimely death in 2005. Silence, calm and
internal peace are the order of the day. Tavener's Chant
is simple and repetitive, leaving the player scope to explore
and voice the melody. Brouwer’s Hika in Memoriam Takemitsu
and the Turnage piece are more angular and testing.
Two discs here from the guitarist Gerard Cousins: one with a
restful Wales as its focus and the other a tangy and provocative
mix of contemporary pieces.
Cousins’ Galles Music label has, to date, recorded three CDs
of his playing: the two featured here and GMCCD1001 Una Leyenda
- Spanish guitar classics. They are all minimalist in design.
Samples and other information are also available from the artist's website.
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Hiraeth by Grace Williams
Gerard Cousins (Guitar),
Gerard Cousins ()
Period: 20th Century
Written: Wales, UK
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs.
Amanda's Delight, for guitar by Robert Smith
Gerard Cousins (Guitar),
Gerard Cousins ()
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs.
Be the first to review this title