Sonatas & Sonatinas
By Paul Fowles
appears to be his debut release, US-based Kolosko presents a programme with
the pleasing symmetry of two works composed for Bream alongside two composed
for Segovia. According to Jonathan Leathwood’s characteristically expansive
notes, the Ponce and the Turina contain material that appeared in the manuscript
but not the published editions, although resultant effect is unlikely to change
the way anyone perceives either work.
Not that music of this caliber requires any academic spin in the first place, the material on offer being some of the most powerful and enduring of the guitar’s 20th century heritage. Despite his apparent youth, Kolosko proves more then equal to the challenge of dealing with works that are both established and, in the case of both the Brouwer and the Berkeley, currently fashionable.
Armed with an unusually wide dynamic range, he weighs in with robust Turina, Lyrical Ponce and uncompromising Brouwer. Even the Berkeley rings true, the composer’s Parisian schooling merely a spectral presence in the work as English as cricket commentaries on Radio 4. Surprises are few, the briskness on Ponce’s central being a rare but by no means unconvincing deviation from the norm. On the other hand, Turina’s gently seductive Andante is allowing all the time in the world, resulting in one of the most compelling accounts of this often overlooked inner gem.
A high-octane agenda from a guitarist with the skill, imagination and confidence to bring it alive.
By Steven Rings
a great program, expertly executed by guitarist Nathan Kolosko. The works complement
one another nicely and are of comparable dimensions (despite titular distinctions
between sonata and sonatina). Only Manuel Ponce’s Sonatina Meridional
is a staple of the literature. The others, by Joaquin Turina, Leo Brouwer, and
Lennox Berkeley, are not played that often, thought the Brouwer is becoming
The neglected Berkeley Sonatina is a very attractive neo-tonal work from the Julian Bream catalogue. Kolosko delivers a solid, satisfying reading here that makes me wish players programmed the piece more often (in the place of the overplayed Ponce for example). The Turina Sonata is more uneven, but still worth hearing. The composer’s unmistakable voice is diluted her and there by some tired Iberian clichés; elsewhere his voice emerges perhaps too clearly in some unaccountably quirky passages. The Andante movement is a gem, though, and Kolosko does a very nice job of bringing out its contrasts between lyrical introspection and stylized flamenco outbursts. I like the Brouwer better each time I hear it, and the performance here is on par with several fine ones I have heard recently, including by Gallen and Devine.
Kolosko’s playing is technically strong and musically engaging. He overplays sometimes on the introductory chords of the Turina, which burst percussively out of the guitar, String buzzing, but by and large his playing is tasteful and appealing. The production is fine (especially for such a small label), the packaging is attractive, and the notes by Jonathan Leathwood are first rate.