Timo Korhonen

Mano a mano

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Finnish guitarist Timo Korhonen tackles substantial solo works by three of the late twentieth century's most important composers. Magnus Lindberg's sonata Mano a mano is the most lightweight contribution; he is skillful at exploiting the instrument's timbral variety, but the harmonic and rhythmic conventionality of the writing makes for a piece that is more bland than engaging. Each of the three movements of Takemitsu's In the Woods is each dedicated to a guitarist who championed his work: John Williams, Kiyoshi Shomura, and Julian Bream. Takemitsu's evocative miniatures are not musically complex, but their simple and spare gestures and extended silences are packed with emotional content, and they form an entirely satisfying set. Henze's Royal Winter Music, like many of his instrumental works, has a programmatic element that provided the composer with the spark for the music, but it is not immediately evident to the listener. The six movements of Royal Winter Music are undeniably dramatic, and each is distinctive in tone and musical content. Henze's harmonic language is largely atonal, but his gestures have a lyricism that ameliorates his tart harmonies. Korhonen plays with a richly varied tone and nuanced expression, which is especially apparent in the Takemitsu and the Henze. Ondine mikes the guitar a little too closely, especially in the Lindberg, the most technically challenging piece, where every slide and inadvertent tap registers clearly enough to be distracting.

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