I thought I was a decent record collector. I thought I have a good discoteque by now, especially as regards contemporary guitar music, but this record made me immediately review my positions. Do you know how many double cds I have of contemporary classical guitar? Nobody. And believe me, I have a lot of them. I did a search on Discogs.com. I haven’t found any. This album is an exception.
I come from the noise. I come from rock, from popular music. In those lands the double albums, if they are not simple compilations of successes, are viewed with a mixture of respect, unbelief and veneration. They tell complex stories. Concept albums. The sum of their passages goes beyond a simple final arithmetic. From a double album the fan of popular music expects a broad and extensive narrative, a sort of cultural manifesto, or, as often happens on live recordings, a sort of summary of the best of the best.
How does a double album behave in the context of such a specific musical niche as that of contemporary guitar music? Does it keep that concentration of energies and visions typical of the popular music or does it move on to other semantic territories? “Mirrored Spaces” by guitarist Daniel Lippel is a double world premiere album of music by American composers Orianna Webb, John Link, Kyle Bartlett, Douglas Boyce, Ryan Streber, Ethan Wickman, Christopher Bailey and Lippel himself, as well as the composers of other lands like Dalia R. With (Lithuania), Sergio Kafejian (Brazil), Karin Wetzel (Switzerland) and Sidney Corbett (Germany).
The title tells us something more about this musical panorama, it’s a different program from the usual guitar recital, something more similar to a concept album where pieces with different qualities are “mirrored” and reflect with each other increasing the listening prospects and the possibilities of exploration within classical and electric guitar, electroacoustic music, structure and form, programmatic and historical relationships, alternative tunings and microtonality.
I invite you to visit the New Focus Recordings website directly for more details:
I would like to emphasize not only the high quality intrinsic to each pieces but also the intelligent way in which they have been proposed and amalgamated, reflected between them. “Mirrored Spaces” is an album that must be listened to in a religious and exact sequence, in order not to get lost in that maze of complexity that Daniel Lippel has proudly and intelligently created.
A decomposed and casual listening would alter that series of planes and reflected surfaces whose sum shows us a decidedly more articulated structure than that of a simple recital or single listening.
A listening that led me to other thoughts and other connections. While listening to the music of “Mirrored Spaces” I was reading the book “Per Volontà e per Caso” by Pierre Boulez, where the composer talks about his life and his music in a long interview with Célestin Deliège and I came across a significant sentence, where Boulez compares the phenomenon of the historical evolution of music to the objects placed under the limestone sources.
Due to the action of the wellsprings, even a fairly simple, even banal, object becomes petrified, becoming a wonderful and balanced object. Then the fount continues to drip and, progressively, this object becomes overloaded with limestone, becoming an almost baroque object, until it becomes so saturated that it no longer has any reason for being. At that point we separate from it and look for something else. Hence a notion of history as a non-linear, but discontinuous, asymmetric, almost sinusoidal type. I think something similar is happening now in the world of contemporary guitar music, especially in academia.
On the one hand, the most extreme and disruptive forms of the twentieth century of which Boulez himself was a leading exponent seem to have exhausted their creative energies, also due to a radical political and social change. At the same time, perhaps thanks to the recent commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, I see the return of neoclassical forms, and I have no interest about them. Here it is. I believe that Daniel Lippel’s double CD goes in a different direction, perhaps not surprisingly it comes from a country like the United States where certain energies, including entrepreneurial ones, have not run out and where a certain faith in innovation has been maintained.
“Mirrored Spaces” is an album of innovative forms and, above all, it expresses a tension towards something else, towards different perspectives. In addition, it’s a double cd. It’s a lesson to be learned