Anna Mnich, guitar - Music of Roland Dyens. © 2020 Anna Mnich

CD Spotlight

A Master of Improvisation

Music by Roland Dyens played by Anna Mnich and recommended by GEOFF PEARCE

'The guitarist is clean in her execution, sympathetic in her musical treatment and her harmonics are flawless.'


This fine CD showcases some of the music of Tunisian-born French guitarist Roland Dyens (1955-2016). He was a multifaceted musician who composed, arranged and performed for his instrument and encompassed many genres. He was a master of improvisation, his concerts were often somewhat unstructured and he would often change his programme at the spur of the moment.

Guitarist Anna Mnich has been fascinated by this composer/performer and here she presents about forty-two minutes of some of his works. The presentation is somewhat hampered by the fact that, at least with the downloaded version that I have, there were no programme notes or booklet. This is a great pity because I would have liked to know more about these works.

The first piece is Songe Capricorne, a free flowing fantasy that has, at least to me, an improvisational feel. The guitarist is clean in her execution, sympathetic in her musical treatment and her harmonics are flawless. She is capable of showcasing the range of colour that the guitar can produce.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Songe Capricorne
(track 1, 2:59-3:34) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

The next three pieces, entitled Saudade, are contrasting in nature, the first being upbeat and almost jazzy. The second is, also, but a little more restrained, and I think it has a Brazilian or Latin American feel, a kind of song which is somewhat reflective. The last one starts in a free improvisational mode and the writing here is quite virtuosic before a rather upbeat tune makes its presence. The piece then changes nature again a couple of times, and one is always left wondering where it is going. This makes very interesting listening.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Saudade No 3 (Trois Saudades)
(track 4, 1:40-2:23) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

Tango en Skaï is one of the composer's best known works, Skaï referring to imitation leather and the work depicts gauchos of Southern Brazil and Argentina. It requires and receives crisp playing, spot on rhythms, rapid repeating notes and quick changes of dynamics.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Tango en Skaï
(track 5, 0:01-0:40) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

Lettre Noire is more relaxed and somewhat bluesy in style. It is full of character and gesture, and again it is beautifully performed. It reminds me somewhat of Django Reinhardt.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Lettre Noire (20 Lettres)
(track 6, 0:01-0:39) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

Lettre mi–longue is slower, more reflective and wistful.

Lettre encore ... has a Latin American beat and reminds me somewhat of Villa-Lobos.

The next four tracks, under the title Hommage à Villa Lobos, definitely tip the hat in that composer's direction. The first, Climazonie, is moody and restless with an underlying tremolo, which again is executed flawlessly with absolutely no unevenness. This is harder to do than it sounds.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Climazonie (Hommage à Villa-Lobos)
(track 9, 1:16-1:57) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

Danse Caractérielle et Bachianinha, with a bright nature and plenty of syncopation, will put a smile on the faces of even the most jaded of listeners. It has a slightly more relaxed and lyical middle section before returning to the nature of the opening.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Danse Caractérielle et Bachianinha (Hommage à Villa-Lobos)
(track 10, 3:07-3:45) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

Andantinostalgie is exactly as the title suggests it might be - an unhurried, somewhat bittersweet little piece which weaves its way over its course with very little to disturb it except an occasional ripple.

Tuhū is to me like a toccata. It requires very deft playing and is a suitable piece to round off this set.

Listen — Roland Dyens: Tuhū (Hommage à Villa-Lobos)
(track 12, 0:00-0:39) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

The final piece on this album, Gottingen, is a lovely song-like piece which sums up the spirit of this disc and the style of Roland Dyens very well. It ends the recital in a very satisfying way.

Listen — Barbara, arranged by Roland Dyens: Gottingen
(track 13, 1:26-2:26) ℗ 2020 Anna Mnich :

I recommend this disc to anyone who enjoys fine classical guitar playing: Anna Mnich is as fine a performer as you could ever hope to hear. Her style of playing is very clean with an almost total absence of the finger sliding noises that too many other guitarists make. I hope to hear more of this fine guitarist and more of this composer, but I do hope that some sort of booklet is either downloadable or contained in the next issue.

Copyright © 14 May 2021 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia








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