"..through which the past shines..." - Solo and Chamber Works for guitar by Nils Vigeland and Reiko Fueting, with John Popham, cello (tracks 2 and 9-11), and Nils Vigeland, piano (track 2)
"In the end the more you put this one on, the greater the riches it yields. It is a fortuitous and by that a critical meeting of compositions and players covering works from 1990 through to 2017, performing what surely is a music of right now....It may not have occurred to you that you need to hear this. After all there are so many other things by established big names and the music of the enshrined dead. With any luck this album might be looked back upon as a highlight of what is going on today. So be on the ground floor of that and get inside this music. I think you will glad you did." -- Gapplegate Classical Modern Music Review
"This fine recording collects new and recent works for guitar by American composer Nils Vigeland (b. 1950) and composer Reiko Füting (1970), who was born in what was then East Germany and has since resided in America and South Korea. The guitarist on all pieces is Daniel Lippel, a major voice in interpreting contemporary composed music.
Red Wall is the most intriguing of the three; it abandons linear development in favor of an irregular sequence of juxtaposed, non-contingent events which draw out a rich, if subtle, range of colors from the guitar. Lippel’s performance is particularly compelling as he makes explicit the timbral implications of Füting’s stable and unstable chords, harmonics, single note runs and trills, volatile dynamics, and leaps of register. Here as everywhere else on the recording, Lippel plays with a characteristically pristine tone and precise voicings."
— Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News
"‘Through which the past shines’ presents works by Nils Vigeland and Reiko Füting, which is performed by Daniel Lippel (piano), John Popham (cello) and Nils Vigeland on piano. Vigeland studied with Lukas Foss and Morton Feldman. Füting grew up in the former German Democratic Republic, where he received his first educations. Later he studied composition with Vigeland and nowadays he is teaching composition himself at the Manhattan School of Music. Lippel is a reputed performer of solo and chamber music, and a very sensitive player as this recording shows. Lippel is playing on all compositions that are presented here. What makes this release especially interesting for lovers of acoustic guitar in modern composed music. The title piece is by far the most lengthy composition - about 21 minutes - and also one of the most intriguing. Small clear defined gestures and patterns are contrasted with one other, resulting in a fresh and
pronounced work. "
-- (DM) Vital Weekly
"Daniel Lippel's records are curious. They have the oblique ability to never be the same. The sound maybe yes. Sound intended as a style, as an imprinter of the interpreter, as a mental and physical elaboration, as a personal contribution of the performer to the composer's creative work. As an encounter, fusion, grafting of two creative minds, as the appropriation and continuation of a work begun by another creative mind. In this CD we have the composers Nils Vigeland and Reiko Füting who offer us these compositions, mostly recent, created between 1989 and 2011, for solo guitar, for duo guitar and cello and, in one case, in trio with piano, played by Vigeland himself.
In the booklet that accompanies the CD Daniel Lippel cites the tension of these music suspended in balance between the security offered by the past and the tension towards the future. It's a complex balance. The risk is yet another neoclassicism. The risk is in self-referentiality, the fall in a vicious circle in which the music reassures because it sounds as already listen to before and at the same time bores as derivative. Excess? The lack of communication of languages. The rejection of a shared expression.
This risk or rather these two risky possibilities seem to me excluded from the music in this cd. They are not pretentiously unlistenable, they don't sound boringly as already listen to before. They express contemporaneity, express a social, economic, cultural reality that has gone beyond post-modernism, which plays with all styles, and in which the only apparent limit is the imagination and courage of those who compose and perform. This record is a masterpiece."
-- Andrea Aguzzi, Neuguitars, 10.2018
"A truism in the nonprofit world is that "people give to people," meaning that donors are more likely to support an organization when they are asked personally, usually by someone to whom they have a connection. But people also listen to people and I think one of the reasons it's taken me so long to write about this excellent album is that it has a bit of an identity crisis. WHO will we be hearing from and WHAT will they be playing? The title is a mouthful, for one thing. If I were marketing the album, I might have titled it Recent Guitar Masterpieces (admittedly cheesy!) so curious listeners might have at least some idea of the wonders that lie within. I also would have reserved the largest font on the cover for the name Dan Lippel, for it is his virtuosic and deeply musical guitar playing that defines the experience of listening to the album. Fortunately, you have me to explain it all to you.
What we have here are seven pieces, five of them world-premiere recordings, of exquisite solo and chamber music focusing on the acoustic guitar. If you are a fan of the instrument, you need read no more than that before laying cold hard cash down for this record. Four of the pieces are by Nils Vigeland, an American composer, performer and teacher who seems to have a true sensitivity for the guitar. His La Folia Variants from 1996 was recorded over a decade ago by Lippel and included on his album Resonances [sic]. Its three lovely, Renaissance-inspired movements should be standard practice at guitar recitals worldwide. Vigeland's Two Variations, from 1990, bookends the album, instilling a sense of absolute peace as you begin and end your journey. The title track, from 2017 and the most recent work here, is also the longest. On it, Lippel is joined by Vigeland on piano and John Popham, of Either/Or and Longleash, on cello, and its sparkling interactions make a stunning case for these forces working together. The final work by Vigeland on the album is Quodlibet from 2011, three movements for guitar and cello based on The Beatles' Hey Jude and Good Day Sunshine, which avoids feeling like a pastiche thanks to the composer's structural skills and depth of invention.
Reiko Füting is a German-born composer and educator who studied around the world, including with Vigeland. His wand-uhr: infinite shadows (2013/16) takes inspiration from a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff but my ears picked out sonorities and techniques that reminded me of Davy Graham's jazz-inspired folk guitar solos. It's even easy to imagine Jimmy Page interpolating some of this into his Black Mountain Side, were he to grace a stage with his presence ever again. Füting's Red Wall (2006), uses dissonance and a broad dynamic range in tribute to the natural beauty of The Alps. Füting's arrangement of the traditional Jewish song Hine ma Tov is also included, using an almost Cubist approach to deconstruct the familiar melody. A digital-only bonus track contains three further variations by Vigeland, a young Icelandic composer named Halidór Smárason, and Lippel himself, a fine dessert after the sonic feast of the album proper. Along with Duo Noire's "Night Triptych", this is the best classical guitar album of 2018. Maybe that should have been the title!" - Jeremy Shatan, An Earful, 11/17/18
Among the challenges facing a contemporary artist is how to negotiate a balance between the impulse to progress with the desire to preserve. In contemporary music, much activity aligns itself with one or the other, but not always with both at the same time. The composers featured on this recording, Nils Vigeland and Reiko Füting, unselfconsciously strike an equilibrium between the richness of our literature and the forward looking directions of the day. This project is a compilation of their music for guitar, both in solo and ensemble contexts, as well as a celebration of the values running through their work. Guitarist Daniel Lippel and cellist John Popham have cultivated a long standing relationship with both composers reflected in the care invested in their interpretations, and Nils Vigeland makes a special appearance as well, performing as pianist on his trio. Both composers draw connections with older repertoire through quotation and integration of pre-existing themes, whether it be Vigeland’s setting of the “folia” theme in his three movement variations work, La Folia Variants, or Beatles songs in Quodlibet.
Vigeland and Füting take divergent approaches to arrangement in their settings of Hine ma Tov, a traditional Hebrew melody also heard in arrangements on a bonus track by a student of Füting’s, Halldór Smárason, and in a version by Lippel. The Füting pieces are written in an alternate tuning, relishing the subtle discrepancies between the overtone based intonation of harmonics and the equal tempered world of fretted pitches. In the austere, Alps inspired Red Wall, fragile, high register trills and tremolos contrast descending plunges to forte low notes, evoking the rarefied air on a mountaintop and the dramatic, gravitational precipice leading down to its base. Wand-uhr: infinite shadows contains the most expanded timbral language on the recording, integrating percussive techniques, syllabic vocalizing, and foot stomps into the fabric of a rippling texture of arpeggios, glissandi, and repetitive cells.
None of the works on this recording identifies itself monolithically with one unusual or novel element, instead they incorporate new components into a multi-dimensional context. Neither do they shine a spotlight on the use of one traditional compositional technique – technical craft is presented with subtlety and often even disguised. Perhaps it is this cultivated balance between inherited wisdom and contemporary sensibility that allows for present music through which the past shines.