Album Review: Michael Sheridan – Prelude

Well, I’m lucky enough this week to have another album from another up-and-coming talent on the classical guitar to review for you. Ahh, it’s a tough gig this one…

This time I have the debut album from Brooklyn, New York-based classical guitarist Michael Sheridan – Prelude. Interestingly, rather like Daniel Nisitco (who’s album I reviewed last week), Michael also crowdsource financed his debut through a Kickstarter project. He was, of course, successful in this, even managing to snag Andrew York as a backer. Nice! This was his Kickstarter page, in case you’re interested:

Michael has been playing guitar since the tender young age of 7, being largely self-taught and then guided later on in his learning career by Phil de Fremery (who himself studied with Segovia and Oscar Ghiglia).

The album is heavily tango, jazz and South American-style inflected and most definitely influenced by Michael’s relationship with the French composer-guitarist Roland Dyens, featuring two of his pieces (including the perennial favouriate Tango en Skai  and Berceuse Diurne dedicated to Michael himself) and three others arranged by Dyens (Angel Villolodo’s El Choclo, Django Reinhardt’s Nuages and Carlos Jobim’s Felicidade).Prelude album rear

Other works on the album include Villa-Lobos’ Choros No.1 (with a particularly beautiful middle section played here by Michael), an original by Michael called The Expatriates (demonstrating elegantly that he can write as well as play, with a piece that provides a thoughtful, melancholy contrast in the middle of the album to the more flamboyant and faster tempo tunes preceeding it).

Oh yes, and he also has some Bach on here too, with the Prelude from Cello Suite No. 3 – yes, an obvious choice when one is putting together an album of largely South American flavour, of course! Hah hah! And why not? Fantastic, I say! Michael clearly demonstrates that he is not a one trick  pony, that he has the great technical facility required for a piece of this nature, but also – very importantly – the musical facility to really make the piece sing. Lovely work.

Above all else there is one thing in particular that this recording demonstrates and that is Sheridan’s passion for music and the guitar. This comes through very clearly and Michael has this in absolute spades. My particular favourite pieces on the album are El Choclo (just a great straightahead tango, played the way it should be with guts, gusto and panache), the Bach Prelude from Cello Suite No. 3 (for reasons cited above) and Dyen’s Tango en Skai – this has a great “grown up”, sultry quality to it and is a piece that Michael is obviously extremely at home with.

Michael Sheridan’s Prelude is available now for download from iTunes:

Check out the blog later in the week for a bit of a Q&A with Michael to find out a bit more about the man behind the music.

If you can’t wait until then, head on over to Michael’s website:

Expanding your guitarist horizons – Florian Larousse

Hands up who likes listening to the “old masters” of the guitar? Recordings of Segovia, Williams and, of course, Bream? Lots of Bream!

Yup, me too. And the likes of Isbin, Parkening, Bonell and so on.

Nothing wrong with that, but if that’s all you’re listening too (and I’ll put my hands up to having been guilty of it in the past) then you’re really limiting yourself. Limiting yourself in terms of the fantastic approaches some of the newer and up-and-coming players on the scene have to well-trodden repertoire. Limiting yourself in terms of listening to some really beautiful tone production, approaches to shaping and phrasing and playing the music we love. Limiting yourself in terms of exploring forgotten repertoire that some of the newer players are bringing to light again, as well as newer repertoire.

By investigating some of the newer players you can have all of this, as well as exposure to improved recording technology which really brings out the nuances in the respective players’ interpretations. So, I’ve begun a bit of an exploration myself recently of some of the crop of the new generation of guitarists bursting onto the classical guitar stage and thought I’d share with you. The first of the young guitarists I’ve been really getting into recently is Frenchman Florian Larousse.

He’s a young whippersnapper, born in France in 1988, and began studying guitar in 1996 at age 8. He continued on to study at the Conservatoire National de Region de Paris and then the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris in 2006, studying with Roland Dyens and Judicael Perroy.

As the winner of the 2009 Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) competition he recorded his recital under Naxos’ Laureate Series, which is a recording well worth checking out. Larousse plays with a fantastically warm and round tone, a great deal of clarity and sensitvity in his playing. I would go so far as to say that his interpretations of Dowland’s “A Fancy”,  “Lachrimae Pavan” and “Fantasia in G Minor” are now my favourites.

Check the album out: It’s also on Spotify too (my new favourite music app!).

And here are some videos to whet your appetite…. Bon appetite!