Daniel Stanislawek

John Anthony Lennon: Player's Fair

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In his youth, John Anthony Lennon studied classical guitar, and his enthusiasm for the instrument has lasted into maturity, as evident in Player's Fair, a 2005 collection from Albany of his etudes and short pieces for the instrument. Lennon's music is approachable and quite enjoyable, partly because of his use of strongly defined melodies, vibrant tone colors, and rich, quasi-tonal harmonies, but also because his writing is always idiomatic and carefully voiced to sound natural and clear. This ability to make the guitar "speak" puts Lennon far ahead of composers who merely write what looks good on paper without concern for how the music works acoustically. Anyone who hears the Concert Etudes (12), The Fortunels, or the three independent pieces, Gigolo, Thirteen, and Play of the Sixes, can tell instantly that Lennon thoroughly understands the guitar's techniques, both conventional and extended, and that he plans his music around its inherent possibilities instead of inserting flashy tricks for effect in what otherwise would be generic music. The organic quality of these pieces is further enhanced by guitarist Daniel Stanislawek's sympathetic playing, which unifies the album's varied expressions through a deeply personal communication and elevates these performances to a highly artistic level. Albany's recording is close-up and crisp, so every attack and nuance of the performance is audible. But be especially prepared for the violent snap at the beginning of Thirteen, which is quite unsettling if the volume is set too high.

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