Album Review: Joie de Vivre by Katrin Endrikat

Hello folks, I have another superb recording in my guitar string-calloused little mitts to review for you. And once again it’s another cracker.

Joie de Vivre album is the second recorded offering from young German guitarist Katrin Endrikat (her first being Between the Worlds, released in 2014). Katrin, born in Berlin, Germany in 1989, graduated with a Master of Music in Guitar Performance from the Yale School of Music (USA) under the guidance of Benjamin Verdery in 2014. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Hochschule für Musik Detmold (Germany), where she studied with Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchhoff.

So she’s no slouch! And this album is testament to that.

In fact this album is more than testament to that, and really lives up to it’s name – Joie de Vivre or joy of life! This recording bristles with a lively and exciting vibrant energy. And it was so lovely to read in the album liner notes that Katrin has dedicated this recording to her at-the-time unborn daughter – Joie de Vivre indeed!  You can hear and feel the excitement and emotion in the playing attached to such an exciting time of life.

On this recording we’re treated to some well-known favourites and , such as Torroba’s Sonatina (a delightfully vigorous interpretation, particularly the Allegretto, with some fabulous ponticello tones), Barrios’ Danza Paraguya (Katrin really brings out the lively, yet unhurried dance-like qualities of this piece. And again I really love those ponitcello tones), and a lovely Recuerdos de la Alhambra (a good deal of direction and drive, beautifully clear baseline that others don’t perhaps emphasise so well and a lovely even tremolo). We’re also presented with lovely interpretations of Granados’ Villanesca (again I was struck by the lovely ponticello tones – check this recording out if you want to hear how genuinely lovely and non-twangy a really god ponitcello can be) and Albeniz’s Sevilla (a rousing, energetic exploration of this favourite).

Joie de Vivre also features all five movements of José Luis Merlin’s Suite del Recuerdo, a piece I’ll admit I’m not overly familiar with. The first movement and album opener (my favourite of the five movements), Evocacion, is lyrical, yet vibrant, with sensitive phrasing.

I particularly like Lauro’s El Marabino – a wonderful foot-tapping little waltz, with just the right smattering of rubarto, without becoming trite or “obvious”, if you catch my meaning.

The recording is rounded out by a delightful Brazilian number Jongo by Paulo Bellinati, with some absolutely fab percussive sounds. Love it!

But for all of the wonderfully energetic renditions on Joie de Vivre my favourite has to be the lullingly soothing interpretation of the traditional (arranged by Miguel Llobet) El Noi de la Mare (which rather aptly translates as Mother’s Child). A case in point that a guitarist doesn’t have to present the flashiest, most technically challenging piece to demonstrate mastery of the instrument, allowing the music to speak through the delivery of a sensitively shaped melody, divine phrasing and full harmonies with beautiful tone.

All in all, Joie de Vivre is a wonderful recording – a delight of tonal variation, energetic flow and direction coupled with beautiful lyricism. Katrin Endrikat is certainly a guitarist worth keeping an eye (and ear!) on.

Be sure to check out Katrin’s website here: http://katrinendrikat.com

Album Review: Premieres by Hilary Field

I have been fortunate yet again, dear readers, to have the enormous pleasure of listening to and reviewing for you a fantastic recording, this time by award-winning guitarist/composer Hilary Field.

This recording features world premiere music by contemporary composers that celebrates the natural lyrical, rhythmic and harmonic beauty of the classical guitar. It features contemporary pieces, some of which have been dedicated to Hilary, from Richard Charlton, Douglas Lora, Jorge Morel, Alberto Cumplido, Victor Kioulaphides, Nadia Borislova, Gerard Droza, Rick Sowash and Field herself.

In the recording’s creation, Hilary worked closely with each of the respective composers to expand the guitar literature  – a huge plus point for me and something I think that more classical guitarists should be venturing to do. So first “well done” on that Hilary, as far as I’m concerned!

And for those of you not familiar with Hilary, she’s a Seattle, Washington based guitarist and composer and has garnered praise for her dynamic virtuosity, her sensitive musicianship, and for the emotional depth she brings to the heart of classical guitar music. Hilary is a past winner of the Northwest Young Artist Series Competition and was the first guitarist to win the Francis Walton Soloist Competition. She has held faculty positions as the head of the Guitar department at Seattle Pacific University and Pacific Lutheran University. She has released several award winning CDs, including her debut recording, “Music of Spain and Latin America,” which was an award winner for Classical Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. Hilary was recently sponsored by the US Embassy to perform and tour in South America, and has been a featured performer in international guitar festivals such as Festival Entrecuerdas in Chile, Festival Internacional de Guitarra ICPNA in Perú, and Série Grands Concerts in Québec.

On first listening, aside from I’m struck by the quality of the playing, depth of musicality and great selection of newer pieces.

The Giga from Jorge Morel’s Suite for Olga could well be my favourite from the 19 individual tracks on the album – sprightly, fun and stunningly played. Controlled abandonment, if that makes sense?! I could hear that in lesser hands this could get out of control! Clear and precise lines, yet with a tangible sense of enjoyment in the playing and unwaveringly beautiful tone throughout. A really lovely closing piece to this great three piece suite from Jorge Morel.

Richard Charlton’s Lauro-inspired Vals by Moonlight from the Suite Latina  and Douglas Lora’s Northeastern Lullaby are also worth a mention, with the former creating somewhat of an earworm for me. I want to play it for myself now – there’s a real inspirational quality to Hilary’s playing that I’ve not experienced for a while with a recording.

And I can’t overlook the opportunity of course to mention Hilary’s own piece Donzella: Fantasia on a Sephardic Lullaby. A heavenly melancholy delight. And you can take a listen (and watch) for yourself right here…..

 

Donzella: Fantasia on a Sephardic Lullaby

Overall Premieres is a high quality recording – superb playing with beautiful depth of tone, excellent production and a great collection of contemporary classical guitar pieces (something we definitely need more of out there). A highly recommended recording, and quite possibly one of my favourites for the year. Very well done indeed.

Premieres is available now on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and all good record stores. Do yourself a favour and buy your copy now!

And if you want to catch Hilary in person she’s currently scheduling a number of release concerts and will be featured in a number of upcoming international guitar festivals – check out her website for more details: www.hilaryfield.com