This is one of the finest guitar discs to surface from the last couple years, and I find it extremely satisfying from start to finish..if you are a fan of guitar music I'm most certain you will agree. Turta's own Etudes are the highlight (for me) of the recording, although everything here is extremely fine (guitar freaks will already know and love the Brouwer I assume)..
Ilkka Turta is a Finnish guitarist and composer who plays music dating from the Renaissance to current times. He composed his superb "Etudes I-X" in 2011 and this is their premiere recording.
He has this to say of his work: "My Etudes I-X were written in 2011 as a part of my thesis for the Turku University of Applied Sciences. The idea was to write new material for talented young guitarists studying at the conservatory and the music institute level. While composing each etude, I had my basis on different subjects feeding me the mental images found around the subject in case, and helping the process of composing. The etudes are also named after these subjects. One of the goals in my compositions is that the players could find the imagery existing in music, and also to learn how to use it, as a supporting element of one's interpretations and practicing".
Turta's 10 pieces range from soft and lyrical to strong and dramatic. They show the full measure of the guitarist's ability. Turta has an incredibly beautiful tone when he plays lyrical music and his studies reveal the lyric palette of a master colorist. Some of these short works begin as though rain or snowflakes are falling softly onto the surface of a lake. There are contrasting dramatic sections and passages that could encourage meditation. As a composer and guitarist Ilkka Turta is a fine craftsman and it would be easy to become addicted to his lyrical sonorities. Although his name will be new to most, he has total mastery of the guitar and this program is something very special indeed.
Cuban composer Leo Brouwer has reminded us of Giovanni Boccaccio's 14th-century Decameron by naming his suite for guitar "El Decameron Negro" (The Black Decameron). Brouwer based his program on African folk tales published by the German anthropologist Leo Frobenius. In the first section, "El arpa del guerrero" (The Warrior'’s Harp), a young man is banished from his tribe because he spends too much time playing his harp. When invaders attack the tribe, he returns to lead them to victory, but the tribe still wants him to be exiled and he leaves with his lover. In telling this part of the story, Brouwer contrasts lyrical interludes with rhythmic and dramatic passages. His second section, "La huida de los amantes por el valle de los ecos" (The Flight of the Lovers Through the Valley of Echoes), follows them on their flight. One can hear the rhythms of their galloping horses as they venture into the black oblivion of the African night. When they stop to rest, they make love to seductive melodies. When they continue their journey, one can hear the sound of their horses's hooves echoing from hill to hill. The third part, "Balada de la doncella enamored" (Ballad of the Young Girl in Love), describes a young girl's awakening to passionate love in a ballad that uses one of the lover's tunes from the previous section. Elena Papandreou made a comparable recording on Naxos in 2002, on which she plays Brouwer's music exactly as he wrote it with no further interpretation. It's interesting, but is second choice to Turta'’s well-thought-out version here.
Turta writes about the Brouwer:
"El Decameron Negro by Leo Brouwer is the first piece I ever played that was composed to a written story. (Naturally, every song has its story, but this one I could actually read!). I immediately fell in love with it-both the written story and the musical one. El Decameron Negro illustrates the stories in the most beautiful way. I do not know if I have expressed the images in my interpretations as Leo Brouwer imagined them, but that is the beauty of music, is it not? We all find our own world when interpreting or listening to music, as in our dreams".
Composer Toshio Hosokawa writes: "I am searching for a new form of Japanese spiritual culture and music, one through which I can remain true to myself as well as to my origins". His "Two Japanese Songs", "Sakura" (Cherry Blossom) and "Komori-uta" (Lullaby) are simple and evoke an ethereal beauty that Turta fulfills with the overtly beautiful tone quality of his lyrical playing. This recording is a true gem that belongs in the home of every fancier of modern guitar music!
Turta writes about Hosokowa's Two Songs:
Toshio Hosokawa's Sakura and Komori-uta were introduced to me by my teacher, Timo Korhonen, several years ago. The works were totally different from anything I had ever played before. The peace and calmness that can be found in these songs and how it effects you is something that, I think, is a valuable treasure for today's hectic people in our harried world. Hosokawa's music is in space, but it also gives you space. The works breathe, allowing you to breathe. Based on Japanese folk songs, these pieces are in their own way the most beautiful I have ever played.
About the guitarist/composer:
Born in Turku, Finland, in 1987, Ilkka Turta began his musical journey with the guitar in 1997 with Matti Sillanpaa. He subsequently studied classical guitar with Risto Vuorinen at the Turku Music Institute, and afterwards at the Turku Music Academy under the guidance of Timo Korhonen, Ismo Eskelinen and Jyrki Myllarinen. Turta regularly gives both solo and chamber music recitals, and has performed in London, Athens, St. Petersburg, Brussels, Tallin and in his native Finland, among many others. His programs often consist of works by such composers as J.S. Bach, Brouwer, Da Milano, Giuliani, Hosokawa, Mertz, Moreno-Torroba, Mudarra, Sor, Suilamo, Tárrega, Turina and Villa-Lobos. Recent chamber music collaborations have included the Autio & Turta guitar duo with guitarist Kalle Autio and the Elise & Her Mans guitar trio with Elise Hermans and Kalle Autio. As a part of a tour of Europe 2012, the trio gave the world premiere of "Hitaita Rakeita" by Finnish composer Tapio Nevanlinna. Turta is also active in popular music as a member of the 'Proggae' group "Kaikukasti", and has worked as a theater musician in musical and puppetry projects. Ilkka Turta plays a Stauffer guitar from 1911, and a modern guitar made by Kauko Liikanen.
1) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Korsika / Corsica
2) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Ennustaja / The Prophet
3) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, La Traviata / La Traviata
4) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Merimatka / Crossing of the Seas
5) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Kleopatra / Cleopatra
6) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Poika / Kiddo
7) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Harharetket / An Odyssey
8) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Rahapata / The Pot of Gold
9) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Riidankylväjä / The Hate Monger
10) Ilkka Turta: Etudes I-X, Kuilu / A Gap
11) Leo Brouwer: El Decameron Negro, El Arpa del Guerrero
12) Leo Brouwer: El Decameron Negro, La Huída de los Amantes Por el Valle de los Ecos
13) Leo Brouwer: El Decameron Negro - Balada de la Doncella Enamorada
14) Toshio Hosokawa: Two Japanese Songs, Sakura
15) Toshio Hosokawa: Two Japanese Songs, Komori-Uta (Weigenlied)