Ralph Towner/Wolfgang Muthspiel/Slava Grigoryan – Travel Guide

travel(ECM 374 4408)

The American Towner and the Austrian Muthspiel were touring independently in Australia when they met Grigoryan, born in Kasazkhstan but established as the pre-eminent Australian classical guitarist. They collaborated and toured in 2005, and recorded an album on Muthspiel’s label, Material Records, in 2009.

This is their second disc, and their first for ECM. It’s magnificent.

If it were a building it would be spacious and lofty, of classical proportions, lined with shining marble and filled with crystalline air. But of human scale, and perhaps the marble would be of warm hue, no matter how cool to the touch. And perhaps at times the breeze blowing through would be a little balmy.

Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan

Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan

Towner is on classical and his unmistakeable 12-string, Grigoryan on classical and baritone guitars, and Muthspiel the only one plugged in. That said he uses a lovely clean, classic electric guitar sound throughout. This is not an album of sharp contrasts of timbre, or of juxtaposition. The three players blend and support one another in beguiling harmony and with extraordinary telepathy.

Towner’s Duende has the warmest breeze running through it, while Muthspiel’s Amarone Trio adds his wordless vocals as a fourth element. The title track has all the forward movement you’d expect, a kind of world tour of guitar music with some amazing unison playing.

A thoroughly beautiful album.


Categories: CD review

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