Gaëlle Solal: Tuhu
Eudora Records EUD-SACD-2003
Gaëlle Solal (guitar)
Winner of the Alessandria Competition, French guitar virtuosa Gaëlle Solal delivers a buoyant, heart-filled, Villa-Lobos-based programme she has put together after several years of research and writing her own arrangements. Works of the great Brazilian composer alternate with delicate and exuberant compositions of Pixinguinha, Nazareth, Jobim and Dyens, among others. A gem that merges Brazilian folk with Classical music into a unique, passionate album.
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - December 9, 2020
For me, there is only one guitar and that is the classical acoustic guitar. This is the guitar that sings, evokes real emotion, and gets to the soul of things. And Gaëlle Solal is here to prove it. Back from a trip to Brazil, she recorded her newly won inspiration in the San Francisco Auditorio, Ávila, Spain, under the technical supervision of Gonzalo Noqué. Those familiar with Gonzalo’s recordings on the Eudora label will know that Gaëlle could not have selected any better platform. With an original format of DSD256 (11.289mHz) in 5.0 surround, even the most demanding sound buff could not have asked for more. Indeed, Gonzalo doesn’t go for less.
But what is new, at least to me, is that Eudora has joined the MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) bandwagon, developed for hi-res streaming, though not as high as the buffs would have liked. But for all those with equipment that doesn’t break the bank surely an interesting alternative. The back cover carries the MQA-CD logo. According to MQA’s website “MQA is now available on CD, allowing any CD player to deliver more detailed, nuanced playback. When paired with a decoder, MQA-CD unveils the full master quality recording, just as it sounded in the studio”. I couldn’t and therefore didn’t test it.
In case you were wondering, ‘Tuhu’ is Heitor Villa-Lobos’ nickname and for this recording taken by Gaëlle Solal from the title of Roland Dyens’ ‘Hommage à Villa-Lobos’ suite, with which, as she calls it, the ‘Villa-Lobos-based’ programme opens. Apart from the Frenchman Dyens, all composers are Brazilian. In her notes, Gaëlle explains how she has been inspirited by Heitor-Villa Lobos and his composer friends’ music for guitar or arranged for it (and some of it by herself). The result is an anthology of Brazilian guitar music. And for those less familiar with it details about each composer are given in her liner notes.
My first listening session turned out to be an hour of sheer enjoyment. I find her playing sensibly reflective. With a kind of Brazilian phlegm, she brings out the beauty rather than the fire we sometimes associate with Latin-American guitar playing. Her technique is nonetheless as fabulous as one may expect from a high-octane guitar player. Leaving it to the listener to savour the different pieces, one will be pleased to know that Nokia’s default ring tone is also present. No, not in the form of the Gran Vals 'The Nokia Tune' by the Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega, but in the ‘soundalike’ Prelude no. 2 by Villa-Lobos!
I do not doubt that many classical guitar fans will be very pleased with this release and many others quite possibly as well.
Blangy-le-Chateau, Normandy, France.
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