From quiet con­tem­pla­tion to fe­ro­cious cathar­sis

Paul Ri­ley hails a ris­ing young gui­tarist, Sean Shibe, equally at home with 17th-cen­tury and mod­ern mu­sic

BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental -


Mu­sic for Acous­tic & Elec­tric Gui­tars Anon: Pieces from Scot­tish lute manuscripts; D Lang: killer; Macmil­lan: From Gal­loway; Motet I; James Oswald: Diver­ti­mento I; Re­ich: Elec­tric

Coun­ter­point; Wolfe: LAD Sean Shibe (acous­tic gui­tar, elec­tric gui­tar) Del­phian DCD34213 56:18 mins ‘★ave we to­day for­got­ten how to speak qui­etly and with grace; or is the real dan­ger that we aren’t scream­ing loudly enough?’ asks Sean Shibe apro­pos this cal­cu­lat­edly provoca­tive programme trad­ing in bold jux­ta­po­si­tions. (Bolder, per­haps, had its el­e­ments been in­ter­leaved rather than cor­ralled into dis­tinct halves for acous­tic and elec­tric gui­tars.) Con­ceived for a world fac­ing seis­mic po­lit­i­cal up­heaval back in 2016, there’s no doubt­ing that he him­self is an artist blessed with grace to spare, and a roar that is fear­some – wit­ness the open­ing sec­tion of Ju­lia Wolfe’s LAD which screams into an­guished life be­fore cor­ner­ing into lament, then fren­zied cathar­sis. There’s no respite ei­ther with the frac­tured, ob­ses­sive dis­lo­ca­tions of David Lang’s killer. Truly we’re worlds away from the be­guil­ing harp-like sonori­ties with which Shibe had bathed an al­most Ar­ca­dian snatch of 18th-cen­tury diver­ti­mento at the start of the disc.

Like Ju­lian Bream be­fore him, Shibe has a nat­u­ral yet creative rap­port with 17th-cen­tury lute mu­sic

(here, four lesser-known Scot­tish col­lec­tions). Both re­fract the mu­sic through a gen­er­ous sound­world that de­mands you savour every note, whether

sur­pris­ingly ur­gent and thrust­ing Elec­tric in Mervell’s Sara­bande or dis­arm­ingly se­duc­tive as the We­myss Man­u­script com­mands ‘Ladie lie near me’. Tran­scrip­tions of two haunt­ing minia­tures by James Macmil­lan blos­som out of a shared Scot­tish pat­ri­mony. And mark­ing the tran­si­tion from ‘soft’ to ‘LOUD’, Steve Re­ich’s Elec­tric Coun­ter­point is despatched with tremu­lous, ear-open­ing brio, tin­gling pre­ci­sion and funky rel­ish.



Hear ex­tracts from this record­ing and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Mu­sic Mag­a­zine web­site at www.clas­si­cal-mu­

Ei­ther, or both?: for Sean Shibe, any­thing is pos­si­ble

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