Hungarian classical guitarist Ferenc Snetberger makes his ECM debut with a live solo guitar recording, surely the most demanding and revealing format for any guitarist. His music is the product of diverse stylistic influences: starting with jazz, but then a strong classical music influence, followed by exposure to Brazilian, South American, and flamenco guitar music. Snétberger cites his first encounter with Johann Sebastian Bach's music as life-changing, followed by hearing ECM label mates Egberto Gismonti in duo with Nana Vasconcelos. The first eight tracks in the album are titled "Budapest" after the city where the performance took place. This implies a completely improvised concert similar to another label mate, pianist Keith Jarrett. But while the playing is highly improvisational, Snétberger frequently draws on earlier compositions of his (and of course there's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as an encore).
"Budapest -Part 1" is a fiery opener, with rasgueado strumming (associated with flamenco). Initially improvised, it finally introduces an earlier melody that Snétberger always has at the ready. "Budapest -Part 2" is a calm contrast, showing the influence of Bach's contrapuntal writing. "Part 4" has a Brazilian samba feel, while "Part 5" is a free improvisationbut it sounds no less logical or precise than the prior selections. "Part 6" employs a tune previously performed under the title "Empathy." "Part 7" features the first performance of a new tune, and "Part 8" ends the main concert program with a reflective ballad. The version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" was the encore for this performance at Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy of Music, a gentle exploration of the standard associated with the movie The Wizard of Oz.
It's a beautiful, assured performance, sure to appeal to fans of Ralph Towner, another classical guitarist (primarily) long associated with ECM. There are additional ECM recordings in preparation, including a new trio with Anders Jormin and Joey Baron. I look forward to hearing them.
Budapest - Part 1; Budapest - Part 2; Budapest - Part 3; Budapest - Part 4;
Budapest - Part 5; Budapest - Part 6; Budapest - Part 7; Budapest - Part 8;
Somewhere Over The Rainbow.