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Elliott Carter, Phil Cashian, Louis Andriessen, Toru Takemitsu, Piers Hellawell, Michael Zev Gordon, Gilbert Biberian, Peter Sculthorpe and Pete Wyer

Riverrun Records RVRCD64

An established recording artist on several labels, this is a cunningly constructed exploration of late 20 C compositions for guitar, a programme of contrasts, everything played with great skill and sensitivity.

Only Wyer's flap nods towards the Spanish traditional genre. From international "greats", Carter's finely wrought miniature is typically whimsical and witty, Takemitsu's Equinox sensitive and subtle, the textures enriched by scordatura.

An uncharacteristic piece by the 23-year old Andriessen shows a little of his abrasive tendency to come. Sculthorpe's yearning Dreaming evokes Australian landscape, with open strings and long-held pedal notes symbolic of the didgerdu. Two substantial works by Philip Cashian feature contrasts between the ruminative and the energetic. And so on.

The playing displays impeccable command of the instrument in all its timbral possibilities, well recorded in a Bedfordshire church acoustic. A lovely CD which should frighten nobody who is wary of modern music. Good production and notes by the artist herself. Recommended.

Peter Grahame Woolf

[Abigail James has also a single with mixed repertoire available (contact)]