Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Atmosphere and adventure under the sea

Seascapes, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

The Gothenburg Combo are guitarists David Hansson and Thomas Hansy. Their new disc Seascapes is a dramatic presentation of events from one of the greatest adventure stories, Jules Verne's 1870 classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Tour of the Underwater World. Most seascapes in music, from Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture to Debussy's La Mer, are atmospheric, and there's a certain amount of that here. Indeed, this minimalist-style music lends itself to such scene-painting, with the trance-like effect of repeated notes supporting harmonic changes making one think of the regular rhythms of the sea, from the gentle lapping of small waves to the nearly regular repetitions of larger breakers. The ebb and flow of the tides and changes in weather provide a dynamic that keeps the ocean's quotidian rhythms from becomes monotonous, but it's the drama of Verne's story that really drives Seascapes. Along the way are some folk-inspired episodes, with the Spanish guitar music of Sor and Villa-Lobos showing up a number of times. And there are many effective scenic paintings,
of birds of paradise, of the picturesque ruins of the lost under-sea continent and brightly coloured coral. This is a fascinating project that shows impressive musical and theatrical talent. Very highly recommended.

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