Machaca – Mano a Mano

Morgan Szymanski (Guitar) Sarabande Records – SARACD001

This is subtitled as ‘Chamber Music for Guitar’ and for this Morgan Szymanski is joined by an array of other musicians performing on harpsichord, violin, percussion, accordion and cuatro plus two female vocalists.

The programme falls roughly into two broadly defined camps, one, of works where the composer’s instrumental intentions are more or less followed (ie. the Piazzolla and Ponce compositions) and the second where the music has additional instrumentation added such as in the Lauro Vals Criollo (cuatro/percussion/lyrics) and Brouwer’s Danza Caracterísitica and Canción de Cuna(respectively, percussion and vocal/percussion).
Of special interest is the word-premiere recording of British composer Alec Roth’s four movement composition for guitar and strings where Morgan Szymanski joins forces with the Sacconi Quartet. The Quintet is a lyrical and intense piece with many and varied rhythms: a multiplicity of moods are covered from sombre and morbid ones through to euphoria and exhilaration and with several twists and turns along the way. Altogether this is an excellent new work for the repertoire and hopefully one which will make many appearances on the concert platform.

All the musicians involved in this interesting project give superb performances and the recorded sound is outstanding. The programme is wide-ranging and colourful, interleaving the known with the less well-known. The Roth piece alone makes this such an attractive purchase.

Steve Marsh – Classical Guitar Magazine, April 2011.