Thursday, August 14, 2014

Doug MacNaughton, Guitarias

Something today a little unusual: a collection of modern compositions for voice and guitar in the new music classical zone, nicely played and sung by Doug MacNaughton.

Guitarias (self-released) is the name of the offering. It's one of those albums you need to listen to a few times to get acclimated. Once you do, there is plenty of artistry in MacNaughton's classical guitar playing and his singing has real credibility and poise in the modern classical way.

There are four composers, each with a song or song cycle well represented. John Beckwith gives us two "Beckett Songs" based on Samuel B's texts; Leslie Uyeda provides us with "Flower Arranger" on a poem by Joy Kogawa; William Beauvais comes through with a four-song "The Truth of Matter" with poetic texts by Linda Hogan; and lastly John Rutter furnishes his eight-song cycle "Shadows" set with poetry from the 16th and 17th centuries.

This is music with a kind of contemplative aura about it, modern but rather quiet and sophisticated, tonal in an evolved sense. The pieces feature lyrics that evoke imagery that the vocal and guitar parts extend and make concrete in music.

If you aren't into contemporary classical song, you may be a bit at sea with this music. On the other hand this is a chance to hear some good examples, some excellent guitar-vocal part combinations and get yourself into the contemporary classical ethos.

I found the album charming, memorable, and after a while, rather haunting. If you put in the listening work, this one will come through with something excellent, and all told, rather different. Recommended.

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