Album Review: Echo & Return by Callum Henshaw – accomplished, polished and just a little adventurous!

Echo & Return is the first recording from young Australian guitarist Callum Henshaw. And what a cracker it is!

Who is Callum Henshaw?

Callum began playing guitar aged just six, learning from a number of talented teachers including Carolyn Kidd, Daniel McKay and Minh Le Hoang. In 2013, he completed a degree in guitar performance with First Class Honours at the ANU School of Music, taught by the world-renowned guitar performer and teacher, Timothy Kain.

Cal has won numerous awards both in Australia and internationally. In 2012, he won First Prize in the Cordoba International Guitar Competition in Spain. In 2013, he was awarded Best Performance of an Australian Work at the Melbourne Guitar Competition (which I witnessed and I can tell you he wasn’t too shabby at all!). With duo partner, Campbell Diamond, he won First Prize in the Sydney Eisteddfod Instrumental Duo Competition. In 2014, he placed third in the Adelaide International Guitar Competition, and placed first in the Tirana International Guitar Competition in Albania.

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Nicole’s Verdict on Echo & Return?

This is certainly a very special recording, and it’s clear we’re witnessing here the rise of another top Aussie guitar talent.

The playing is highly accomplished and musically presented, including across all ten of Granados’ Valses Poeticos and Ponce’s Variations sur “Folia de España” et Fugue, both presented as single tracks on the recordings. Between these two mammoth tracks we’re treated to Napoléon Coste’s Le Départ, which is played with a virtuosic flair, high energy levels and beautiful tone colours.

We’re then treated to all four movements of Peter Sculthorpe’s From Kakadu, my favourite of which being the third movement Misterioso. Callum’s approach to this particular movement really evokes that mysterious quality Sculthorpe is no doubt looking for.

My favourite piece on this recording though has to be Bleed-through by young Australian composer Samuel Smith. Let me warn you however – this is not a piece of music for the faint-hearted, nor those who like to reside comfortably in the relative consonant simplicity of traditional Western classical music.

If you are on the more adventurous side and like to explore cutting edge guitar and art music generally then you’ll be on to a winner here. With its soundscapes of chilling echoes, feedback loops (providing inspiration for the title of the recording “Echo & Return“) and suggestions of colour this is a great new addition to the oeuvre. And a big hats of to Callum for being adventurous enough to include in this recording. I do wish more artists, established and budding alike, would make these kind of valuable musical explorations. Well done!

I urge you to check out Echo & Return – head over to Callum’s website at http://callumhenshaw.com/music to download the album (and rather generously name your price for it) or order your very own hardcopy CD of this wonderful recording. Get on it now and check out this star ascendant.

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