Guitarist Krzysztof Meisinger, making his first appearance on an
record label, chooses the music of Villa-Lobos. It’s a surprisingly
choice, since the Polish Meisinger is fascinated by South American music: he
played in a band modeled after Ástor Piazzolla’s. He has also
in master-classes with Piazzolla’s favored guitarist, Pablo Ziegler.
way with the five Villa-Lobos Preludes
is like nobody else’s.
Specifically, Meisinger allows the slower preludes (Nos. 1, 3) to
develop at their own pace, slowing down to gently capture the full potential
of the “Lyric Melody,” or to expand the “Homage to
Bach” into a sarabande of great poignancy. There’s no stinting
on the faster stuff - it’s hard to imagine a more evocative portrait
of the “hustler” - but, for instance, compare Meisinger’s
timing in the Bach homage with Norbert Kraft’s on Naxos: Kraft takes
3:06, Meisinger 7:31. The difference to the ear is substantial; Kraft's
performance holds together much better, a consistent and structurally sound
product, while Meisinger’s, more liable to muse, fuss around with
phrases, and generally put its nose into the roses, might be favored by
those who want something more meditative or “evocative.” It's
strange, but in a way that's interesting rather than perverse.
The Guitar Concerto
gets a more conventional reading, but no
less distinguished. Meisinger’s joined by the Academy of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields, who sound like they’re bunched around the
microphones but thankfully the score itself is very clear and their
contributions all go well-noticed. Here there’s again competition from
Norbert Kraft among others, although maybe it’s me but I find it hard
to really fault any recording of such a charming, un-muck-up-able piece. The
is a gorgeous encore destined for radio airtime
and maybe a role in a film.
This is to be welcomed, then, if you can get past two hurdles: the
short playing time (50 minutes) and Meisinger’s eccentricity. As far
as I’m concerned, both are okay, especially with performances
distinctive enough that Villa-Lobos fans will love to hear them and assess
the music anew.