Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Shibe stunner

Having experienced both the soft acoustic and loud electric of genius 26-year-old guitarist Sean Shibe's latest Delphian CD live in Anstruther, I wondered when I saw the back cover whether bunching the two different styles respectively together would make for as good a programme (he shared the concert, too, with clarinettist Julian Bliss).

Then I listened, and was convinced. The exquisite miniatures of the Scottish lute pieces fold outwards into MacMillan's From Galloway, ingeniously transcribed from the clarinet original,  and Motet 1 from Since it was the day of Preparation - first track to play anyone you want to convince about the rainbow hues of Shibe's acoustic-guitar mastery.

Reich's Electric Counterpoint glides us into the louder stuff. The composer's commendation on the back of the disc says it all more eloquently than I can. Then comes the stunner which virtually lifted me out of my seat in the East Neuk - on the cusp of bearability, though the earplugs we were given turned out not to be necessary - in the shape of Julia Wolfe's LAD. I've already written on how only an artist of Shibe's unique imagination could have thought to ask if he could adapt the original - for nine bagpipes, performed in the World Trade Centre - for himself live and recorded eight times. David Lang's Killer just about finishes us off.

So we move in - please note, not 'to', which writers are still declaring virtually daily - a crescendo, from introspection to exhilarating, violent exuberance. If only all solo CDs had anything like this thoughtfulness. It's a winner by any standards. Great photo-artwork, too, by the inimitable Kaupo Kikkas.

I spoke to our hero at the Frontline Club some time back; the interview is now up on The Arts Desk to follow Graham Rickson's very enthusiastic review. The accolades are just pouring in.


Susan Scheid said...

Well, I have a lot to catch up on over here, I see. I must remember move "in" a crescendo--I'd not thought about it, but of course that makes sense, not "to." The programming of the Shibe CD is certainly interesting. The first pieces are lovely, such a delicate touch. It'll be interested to see how the segue works from soft to loud.

David said...

The Nocturnal is actually on the English guitar music disc. Or have you heard the exquisite Scottish pieces already? As I wrote, I think the transition via MacMillan and Reich is actually very well graded.

Susan said...

I’ve only started in so far on the softLOUD disc, but I think I’ve spotted the other you mentioned, that contains Nocturnal. Interesting to me, so far, how, as a listener, I found I was reluctant to shift gears from soft to loud. I think I so liked the ambiance created by his performance of the earlier pieces on that disc I simply wanted to stay in that sound world a while longer.

David said...

But you would see why he would want to push the boundaries in his second disc. The beauty of downloading is that you can programme as you please, so not only can you stop at the MacMillan, but you can also bunch the quiet half of this disc together with the English guitar pieces and the recording of Maxwell Davies's 'Farewell to Stromness'.

Susan said...

Yes, absolutely, and it’s a positive to push the boundaries, particularly when done so perceptively.