I'm not sure this is a proper "review", but I love this CD so much (and I'm very difficult to satisfy haha) that I have to talk about it here.
On this CD there are :
Dowland, Fantasia (P72)
Michael Tippett, The Blue Guitar
Dowland, Fantasia (P7)
Dowland, Flow my tears (a transcription from mr Boyd, from the original lute-song)
This alone is amazing. Those are only extremely rich, moving and deep pieces - here is the great repertoire of our instrument !.
There is a huge gap between the renaissance pieces by Dowland and the XXth century pieces by Tippett and Britten, and yet they are, in a way, similar. They have in common a mysterious, nocturnal darkness.
The name he gave to this CD, "Shapes of sleep", fits perfectly the program. The choice of pieces is well thought, and listening to the CD in one sitting is an experience as great as listening to one of the track - this isn't something very common, as far as I know.
It opens with a chromatic fantasy by Dowland. It's played very slowly, with a great richness of timbre and a very supple rhythm. The result is that every time I listen to it it gives me the impression of a great cathedral - the complex architecture of the piece is beautifully highlighted by James Boyd's playing, and I only want to get lost in this great edifice when I listen to it.
Tippett's The Blue Guitar is one of the masterpiece of the British guitar music of the XXth century. Despite being written in a definitely modern idiom, it's quite accessible. Here again, we have a magnificent piece played in a very intelligent and colorful way. The little world that is "The Blue Guitar", sometimes sweet and dreamlike (not unlike Takemitsu's music), sometimes violent rhythmic and hard - but never rough - is here brought to life.
The second Dowland fantasia is quite contrasting with the first one. Placed in the middle on the playing time of the CD, it's like a burst of light - sudden, unexpected (it takes place just after the third movement, "Dreaming", of The Blue Guitar). The wonderful, powerful, coppery and virile Boyd can get of his guitar serves this piece very well.
Flow my Tears. Everyone know this piece. It's here wonderfully played, and the arrangement sounds terrific - I bet it's very hard on the left hand. Everything sounds natural, vocal - which isn't something easy to achieve at the guitar !
The Nocturnal is a great choice as a closing piece. It's, with Flow my tears, the most famous piece of this CD. It's of course played with great intelligence and an amazing musicianship.
The tone - I should say the tones
- of Mr.Boyd is a marvel. full of shades, as singing, ample and natural as the human voice, it has so many colors. This is exactly what the pieces asks.
All those nuances, all those shades participate in creating a wonderful nocturnal moment, and James Boyd draw us in his world with an amazing force.
At the end, "Come, heavy sleep" resonates with grace and poetry and the music evaporate gently.
This is really great art. I've never encountered before a CD so well built, and the music is so well played that I still have the impression, after numerous listenings, that I'm only discovering it, only scratching the surface. This is so rare ! This is so rare to hear a guitarist achieving such flamboyant colors in such a demanding - technically and musically - program. This is so rare to hear such a rhythmic mastery, such an singing melodic playing. I'm glad I bought this CD. I had never heard something like that. Unfortunately there isn't any extract on YT - there's just a short video of J.Boyd about an other project of him
, where you can hear a bit of his wonderful playing of "Come heavy sleep".
Here's a page of his website which includes review of this wonderful CD.
edit : I just found a "listen" section on mr.Boyd website :http://www.jamesboyd.co.uk/shapesofsleep#listen
Cette dernière trahison m'a été également reprochée. Ce que je trouve à répondre, c'est:"merde aux conventions!"