What a lovely album.
According to his Web site, "Kazu Suwa is a London-based Japanese classical guitarist. His debut CD album 'Guitar Recital,' received 'Semi-Highest Honour' in the Japanese classical music magazine Record Geijutsu ("Art of Records") in April 2015. This album consists of 22 pieces of Spanish and South American music presented in an enthralling interpretation by Kazu.
Kazu has been described by one of the world's most respected music critics, Mr. Jiro Hamada, as a unique guitarist who 'knows the world of poetic sentiment' – a sentiment able to penetrate the hearts of listeners and move them profoundly.
Kazu studied classical guitar with the renowned classical guitarist Mikio Hoshido at the Nihon University College of Art in Tokyo. After graduation, he moved to Spain where he continued his studies at the Madrid Royal Conservatory as well as attending a number of master classes given by well-known maestri."
On his present, debut album Kazu Suwa plays twenty-two selections, much of it familiar, some of it not as much:
Francisco Tárrega: ¡Adelita! (Mazurka)
Francisco Tárrega: ¡Sueño! (Mazurka Conchita)
Francisco Tárrega: Preludio (Una Lágrima)
Francisco Tárrega: Gran Vals
Francisco Tárrega: Capricho Árabe
Francisco Tárrega: Preludio (Endecha)
Abel Fleury: Estilo Pampeano
Abel Fleury: Milongueo del Ayer
Abel Fleury: Te Vas Milonga (Milonga)
Dilermando Reis: Se Ela Perguntar
Hector Ayala: Arco Iris (Zamba)
Agustín Barrios Mangoré: Choro da Saudade
Agustín Barrios Mangoré: Aire de Zamba
Garoto (Annibal Angusto Sardinha): Chôro Triste No. 2
Dilermando Reis: Eterna Saudade (Valsa)
Agustín Barrios Mangoré: Vals No. 3
Fernando Sor: Fantasia No. 6 Op. 21 Les Adieux
Frederic Mompou: Cançó i Dansa No. 11 (arr. Kazu Suwa)
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Suite Populaire Brésilienne: Mazurka-chôro
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Cinq Préludes: Prélude No. 5 in D major
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Suite Populaire Brésilienne: Valsa-Chôro
Frederic Mompou: Cançó i Dansa No. 6: Cançó
The thing that strikes one from the outset of the program is not just Kazu's artistic abilities, his virtuosic talents, but his sensitivity. That is, Suwa's playing is passionate not just in the bigger, more-dramatic moments but in the softer passages as well. He is, above all, an artist of quiet contemplation, and you will hear this throughout the recital. This characteristic is evident from the opening Tarrega tracks, where Suwa's delicate touch on the strings is most engaging.
For Fleury's "Estilo Pampeano" Suwa employs a variety of techniques--mostly degrees of rubato and contrast--to emphasize the music's assorted moods. In Reis's "Se ela Perguntar" Suwa stresses the music's romantic nature but does so in a manner that never strays into dreamy sentimentality. He makes some welcome compromises here.
Garoto's "Choro Triste No. 2" comes off as both elegantly accessible and seriously meditative, a popular tune in a considered, reflective mode. Fernando Sor (1778-1839), the earliest guitar composer represented in the recital, sounds as modern as the rest of the program, which shows us how advanced Sor's compositions were for the day. Under Suwa, his "Fantasia No. 6 'Les Adieux'" is light and charming on the one hand, polished and sophisticated on the other.
I find the music of Villa-Lobos welcome anytime, but as Suwa plays it, it exhibits an additional touch of color and brilliance, while at the same time fitting into Suwa's generally subdued, intricate delivery.
In all, Kazu Suwa provides a pleasantly relaxing array of guitar tunes, masterfully crafted and expertly performed. As I say, subtlety, nuance, and delicacy are the order of the day in an album of beauty and emotion.
Kazu Suwa produced and engineered the album himself, recording the music at a private concert chamber, Sloane Square, London, in 2015. Unlike some guitar recordings that appear as though the instrument were six inches away and spread out from speaker to speaker, this recording seems quite lifelike. The guitar is still a little close for my taste, but if played back at a realistic level, it sounds warm and natural. A modest room ambiance helps this illusion nicely, as do some good, clean transients.
Among the places you'll find Kazu Suwa's recording is Amazon UK at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guitar-Recital-Kazu-Suwa/dp/B013CLHSMG, Amazon America below, or directly from Kazu Suwa's Web site at http://www.kazu-classicalguitar.co.uk/.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here: