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Burnt Sienna (JCL 512)

Burnt Sienna (JCL 512) by Carl Herring

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A beautiful, warm and relaxing journey through South American and European folk and guitar music. Carl Herring, recipient of the highly coveted Julian Bream prize whist studying at the Royal Academy of Music, London, performs a mix of own compositions and favourite repertoire on this his second album recording.

Carl Herring
Carl is the leading British guitarist of his generation and has rapidly built up an international career, giving performances throughout the UK and in Cuba, Sri Lanka, Scandinavia and Europe.
Burnt Sienna

A sunny programme and sparkling technique brighten the day.

Carl Herring graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with first-class honours in 2003, and is a recipient of both the Julian Bream Prize and the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Ivor Mairants Award. Subsequent activities have included performing in the UK and abroad, as well as work in opera and on film soundtracks. “Burnt Sienna” is Herring’s second disc; his first, “Azure”, was released in 2004 to favourable reviews. I look forward to hearing the title of his next album – “Alizarin Crimson”, perhaps?

Jokes aside, though, this is a superb disc and the title is justified. As Herring says, “Burnt Sienna is the colour that best captures not only the warmth, but also the earthy, honest rustic and immediate quality of this music.” That music includes two attractive works by Herring himself, in which he is accompanied by tabla-player Bhupinder Singh. Elsewhere, Herring is joined by Demi Garcia Sabat on cajón and tinaja.

Much of the programme is indeed an unrelentingly sunny affair, with just Baden Powell’s melancholy Valsa sem nome and some parts of Piazzolla’s Las cuatro estaciones porteños threatening rain. But Herring does possess a sparkling technique and his amiable musicality radiates warmth, so perhaps that’s as it should be. The only real shadow in this otherwise sunlit landscape is the too-driven quality he brings to Villa-Lobos’s Chôros No.1.

Exceptionally well recorded and smartly packaged, and with a fold-out cover that includes brief commentaries on each work, “Burnt Sienna” is the kind of disc that would brighten anyone’s day.

By Gramophone September 2008

Herring is a fine player, with technique to burn, a bright, attractive tone and a sure grasp of rhythmic subtlety.

By Classical Guitar Magazine 2008

The first release on this new label is a sumptuous recording of 16 solos (four subtly augmented by tabla or tinaja) that are pure sunshine. Carl Herring is a name to watch.
4/5 stars.

By Classic FM Magazine August 2008, review shorts

Guitarist Carl Herring’s album title deliberately evokes the warm colours of sunnier climes, ‘the earthy, honest, rustic and immediate quality’ of the music he’s chosen to record.

There’s certainly a Mediterranean shimmer to the opening and closing tracks, both penned by Herring and revealing a solid sense of structural and melodic shape.

The opening track, Surya’s Mirror, hints at the influence of flamenco, jazz, world and contemporary music – all fields in which Herring (who graduated with first class honours from the Royal Academy of Music in 2003) has proved his artistic fluency.

Guitar aficionados will recognise Baden-Powell’s Calsa Sem Nome, Villa-Lobos’ Chôros No.1 and guitarist Sergio Assad’s brilliant sympathetic arrangement of Piazolla’s Las cuatro estaciones porteños. For sheer dazzling rhythmic and melodic invention, though, Atanas Ourkouzounov’s Four Bulgarian dances steal the show. It’s evident that Ourkouzounov has completely absorbed his native idioms and the result is an extraordinarily pictorial representation of village life.

Herring’s lovingly crafted response is as technically impressive as it is empathetic. The work’s rhythmic oddities and contrapuntal challenges pose no apparent technical difficulties for him; the result is music-making of real style. Highly recommended.

By Muso Magazine June/July 2008

Many classical artists (too numerous to mention) have struggled desperately in vain attempts to discover a relaxed, rhythmic ‘cool’ when playing music of a Hispanic or Latin American flavour. Recent years have seen the bargain bins heaving with well-intentioned Piazzolla wannabes trying to ‘hang loose’. Enter Julian Bream Prize-winner Carl Herring, who sounds as though this music is flowing through him like a force of nature. With the minimum of noises off, he negotiates these often very tricky pieces with a beguiling sensitivity to line and rhythmic sap so engaging that it is impossible to imagine the music being played any other way.

The engaging rhythms of the two Pernambuco classics, Sons de Carilhões and Rebeliço, are captivatingly voiced and ‘swung’. So too Ourkouzounov’s Bulgarian Dances, throughout which Herring sounds totally absorbed in the music’s delectable musical flavours. Villa-Lobos’s First Choros, played at a daringly swift tempo, takes us out of the concert-hall into the exuberantly colourful streets of Brazil that inspired this music in the first place. The Piazzolla suite is not only technically challenging (especially the tricky contrapuntal lines of the outer sections of Primavera Porteña) but idiomatically slightly left of centre, yet Herring captures the occasionally obsessive, sometimes plaintive quality of this captivating music with complete surety.

Add to that two stunning self-penned pieces – the opening Surya’s Mirror has a mesmerizing lilt and throbbing sense of structural flow reminiscent of Pat Metheny – and virtuoso contributions from tabla player Bhupinder Singh Chaggar and cajón/tinaja player Demi Garcia Sabat, and you have a guitar recital of truly outstanding quality.

By International Record Review, September 2009, Julian Haycock

1. Surya's Mirror* - Carl Herring (1980)
2. Chôro† - Anon
3. Valsa sem Nome - Baden Powell (1937 – 2000)

Four Bulgarian Dances - Atanas Ourkouzounov (1970)

4. Rachenitsa
5. Mominsko Horo
6. Love Song
7. Makedonsko Horo
8. Sons de Carilhões‡ - João Pernambuco (1883 – 1947)
9. Rebuliço† - João Pernambuco (1883 – 1947)

Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas - Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992) arr. Sergio Assad

10. Primavera Porteña
11. Verano Porteño
12. Otoño Porteño
13. Invierno Porteño
14. Vals Venezolano No 3 'Natalia' - Antonio Lauro (1917 – 1986)
15. Choro No 1 - Heitor Villa Lobos (1887 – 1959)
16. Place de la Comédie* - Carl Herring (1980)

Bhupinder Singh Chaggar - * Tabla
Demi Garcia Sabat - †Cajon ‡ Tinaja
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