Sunday 14 February 2016

Classic Guitar - Andrew Keeping

Morel, Trenet, Dyens, Myers, Tarrega, Sor, Gershwin, Piazzolla, Kern Bach, Arlen; Andrew Keeping; KeepingMusic
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 9 2016
Star rating: 4.0

Eclectic mix of popular guitar pieces and encore numbers.

This disc, Classic Guitar, is very much an individual project for guitarist Andrew Keeping. For personal reasons Keeping's performing career has had to take something of a back seat in the last 10 years, and this disc is by way of a labour of love. Recorded with his own production company and released under his own KeepingMusic imprint, the disc includes a selection of some of the most requested pieces in his repertoire. The eclectic mix of composers includes Jorge Morel, Charles Trenet, Roland Dyens, Stanley Myers, Francisco Tarrega, Fernando Sor, Piazzolla, Bach, Harold Arlen, Leonard Bernstein, plus John Duarte's arrangements of Gerwshin and Kern.

Argentinian guitarist Jorge Morel's Danza Brasileira proves to be a catchy number with lovely perky rhythms, and enables Keeping to display some fine guitar technique. The well known Spanish Romance, beloved of guitarists everywhere, shows Keeping combining a lovely singing tone in the melody with nicely even arpeggio figures underneath.
Roland Dyens is a Tunisian-French guitarist, his arrangement of Charles Trenet's Revoir Paris is a Parisian cafe-song delight, laid back but with just the right rhythmic accompaniment too. Dyens' own Tango en Skai proves to be a smokey tango with a lovely variations of timbres and textures. Stanley Myer's Cavatina (from the film The Deerhunter) is another well known classic, simple but effective with Keeping providing a lovely relaxed sung melody.

The 19th century Spanish guitarist Francisco Tarrega's Recuerdos De La Alhambra uses the typical, but highly effective, guitar texture of fast repeated notes for the melody with a slower bass line. The music is relatively straightforward, but the technical effect overall is rather striking. Fernando Sor is one of the major names in early 19th century Spanish classical guitar. His Variations on a Theme by Mozart provides a change of mood, with an elegant yet substantial set of classical variations.

Next comes a group of Gershwin arrangements by the English guitarist John Duarte. Love is here to stay in a lovely late-night cocktail jazz arrangement, is my favourite though Love walked in and Embraceable you are highly effective too. To follow these comes Astor Piazzolla's tango Verano porteno which is quiet and intense. A further group of Duarte arrangements follow, this time of Jerome Kern standards. Long ago and far away and All the things you are are both nicely relaxed, with the livelier They didn't believe me providing contrast in the middle.

The Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 BWV 1007 shows Keeping in fine technical form, in a transcription which makes you think the piece was made for the guitar.

Harold Arlen's Somewhere over the rainbow is given a rather magical treatment in Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida's arrangement. Finally comes Jorge Morel's arrangement from Bernstein's West Side Story in which I feel pretty merges into Maria, and America to form an attractive medley.

The recording is relatively close, giving us a chance to hear Keeping's fine technique in detail, whilst still allowing sufficient air round the sound. The combination of works on the disc is eclectic and it is perhaps a disc to dip into but Keeping's elegant performances and lovely tone quality make the disc well worth hearing.

Jorge Morel (born 1931) - Danza Brazileira
anon. arr J.Martin - Spanish Romance
Charles Trenet, arr Roland Dyens (born 1955)  - Revoir Paris
Roland Dyens (born 1955) - Tango en Skai
Stanley Myers (1930-1993) - Cavatina
Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) - Recuerdos de la Alhambra
Fernando Sor (1778-1839) - Variations on a theme by Mozart
George Gershwin, arr. John Duarte (1919-2004) - Love is here to stay; Love walked in; Embraceable you
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), arr B. Benitez - Verano Porteno
Jerome Kern, arr. John Duarte (1919-2004) - Long ago and far away; They didn't believe me; All the things you are
JS Bach (1685-1739) - Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 BWV 1007
Harold Arlen, arr Laurindo Almeida (1917-1995) - Somewhere over the rainbow
Leonard Bernstein, arr Jorge Morel - Three Pieces from West Side Story
Andrew Keeping (guitar)
Recorded in Sutton Valence, Kent, 20-21 October 2015

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