CG magazine

Souvenir de Paris

Thomas Koch plays 19th and 20th century guitar music.

Classical Guitar by John Arran (monthly classical guitar magazine published in England. April 1996 issue)

This disc is beautifully presented; how good to see such thought given to the visual image of a guitar CD. The composers represented are connected by each having lived and worked in Paris, hence the title.

The excellent insert notes remind us that when Coste arrived in Paris in 1830 there were already living in that city Aguado, Carcassi, Carulli and Sor one would have thought enough guitaristic activity for even the most ardent enthusiast! However we should remember that these composer/guitarists were involved in the general Parisien musical scene and not tucked away with a handful of enthusiasts.

So how would the music of Carulli, Sor or Coste sound in that context? My feeling has always been that, played as it must have been by these musicians, it must have sounded pretty good otherwise they would not have survived in what was a most competitive atmosphere. The performance on this CD more than bear this out. Thomas Koch, whose playing is new to me, plays the guitar as though he is singing each phrase. His interpretations use the full dynamic range of the instrument, he has the widest possible range of attack and articulation, yet he always plays within the instrument’s capabilities.

I could go on and on about this recording, I’ve enjoyed it as much as anything I’ve heard. Koch may not have the unique abilility of John Williams to present the composition as the composer conceived it, but in my opinion he shows the way that the guitar must travel if it is to remain before the concert audience. An instrument can only exist within the music written for it, and Koch shows that without resorting to exploitation of mechanical egotism the guitar and its repertory can do very well.

The only minus is that nowhere on the text can I find an address or even a compass bearing to give to you to help find this wonderful CD. However, find it you must !

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