Matthew McAllister | Merula

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by Matthew McAllister

The acclaimed début album from Scottish Classical Guitarist Matthew McAllister including works by Albéniz, Granados, Villa Lobos, Towner, Dowland and York.
Genre: Classical: Traditional
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Frog Galliard
3:24 $0.59
2. Mr Dowland's Midnight
2:23 $0.59
3. Diferencias Sobre, Guardame Las Vacas
2:32 $0.59
4. 8 Valses Poeticos: I. Vivace
1:19 $0.59
5. 8 Valses Poeticos: II. Vals 1 - Melodico
2:19 $0.59
6. 8 Valses Poeticos: III. Vals 3 - Tempo de Vals lento
2:20 $0.59
7. 8 Valses Poeticos: IV. Vals 4 - Allegro humoristico
1:18 $0.59
8. 8 Valses Poeticos: V. Presto
0:57 $0.59
9. 8 Valses Poeticos: VI. Vals 1
1:53 $0.59
10. Asturias
6:52 $0.59
11. Reluctant Bride
2:18 $0.59
12. Green & Golden
3:07 $0.59
13. Old Photo
3:31 $0.59
14. Choros No. 1
4:58 $0.59
15. Sunburst
3:19 $0.59
16. Julia Florida
4:25 $0.59
17. Romanza
3:18 $0.59
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Merula is the acclaimed début album from Scottish Classical Guitarist Matthew McAllister. Released in November 2004 Merula established Matthew as one of the most exciting and expressive Classical Guitarists of his generation.

Guitar: Bert Kwakkel
Strings: Savarez & Agustine (Matthew is an official D'Addario Artist since 2005)
Recorded in Glasgow 4th-9th August 2004

"It has almost become a general consensus that classical and contemporary repertoire need to be treated fundamentally different. “Merula”, however, works exactly because it defies the dogma. For his debut album, Matthew McAllister has taken the liberty of showing his abilties within the most diverse contexts, of organising a time-travel package through the ages and of recording his own interpretations of “a choice selection of classic guitar repertoire, alongside newer styles of contemporary guitar music.” Even more significantly, he has allowed in an element, which has strangely been forgotten in the debate on historical practise: Empathy.

Already in our “15 Questions” with the Glasgownian, he emphasised personal emotions as the basis for his performance: “Hopefully at the core of every musician and performer is a real childlike excitement about music and an uncontrollable desire to play and perform music.” But it works the other way round as well. Just as much as they are historical figures caught in the templates of their times, classical composers are human beings with a set of desires which has survived through the centuries, existing beyond short-term trends and fads. McCallister doesn’t leave out the social connotations or musicological implications - but his interpretations do allow for the possibility that the motivations for writing music were not that different for John Dowland, whose consoling “Frog Galliard” opens the program of seventeen short pieces, and Douglas Whates, who was born more than 400 years later. Which is why the track “Diferencias sobre, guardame las vacas” by early 16th century master Luys de Narváez sounds remarkably fresh and why Andrew York’s “Sunburst”, written very much in the present, has a “classic” feeling to it: “Merula” doesn’t corner anything or anyone, it refuses to see the chronological distance between the works as a conflict. With all of his renditions, McCallister arrives in the here and now and avoids the immanent danger of playing a cliche. Slowly but surely, he builds his set from the early beginnings and uses a dark and determined version of Albeniz’ “Asturias” as a transition point: After the stillstand of the middle section, the main motive rises from silence like a phoenix from the ashes and sends the music soaring to the 21st century and Ralph Towner’s brittle musical scenes.

It is not even that everything melts into a single uniform entity. Each track can be appreciated on its own and has retained its unique character. But if you close your eyes and leave the liner notes of the disc aside for a moment, you will find that each of the pieces still speaks to you with the same intensity and the same concreteness. Just like the instrumentalists performing their pieces, composers are no robots. That is no new conclusion by any means. But by feeling with them, instead of thinking about them, Matthew McAllister has awarded great depth to his repertoire – both the 'old' and the 'new' ".

“There will soon come the time where I will once again be asked by some curious music lover what classical guitar CD I recommend they buy in order to introduce themselves to the instrument. When that time arrives, Matthew McAllister will be the name that will spring to mind. In his recent release, entitled “Merula,” McAllister has produced a disc that features a careful selection of works that serve the dual purpose of complementing each other and representing a variety of composers, time periods, and styles of composition. With the exception of a world premiere recording of Douglas Whates’ “Old Photo” and two Ralph Towner pieces, the CD is a veritable “Best of the Classical Guitar”, featuring some of the most enduring compositions for the instrument. His interpretations of works such as “Choros No.1” by Villa-Lobos, “Julia Florida” by Barrios, and the notorious and anonymously written “Romanza” are carefully and naturally executed. McAllister is more daring in his performance of the popular “Asturias” by Albniz, in which he occasionally sacrifices accuracy in order to push the drama to the limit of his abilities. For anyone interested in experiencing the music of the classical guitar, I recommend this disc as it offers an appealing cross-section of the repertoire as well as Matthew McAllister’s pleasant interpretations.”

Timothy Smith ~ Minor 7th



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