Juan Calderon’s Guitar Music

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CALDERON: 6 Songs for Soprano & Guitar on poetry by Octavio Gamboa.* 5 Guitar Pieces I & II. Improvisation V / Juan Calderon, gtr; *Stephanie Lamprea, sop / Centaur CRC 3872

From the blurb for this CD:

New York city composer and guitarist Juan Calderon is a native of Ecuador raised in Colombia. He immigrated to Miami at age 20 to escape the political climate of the late 90’s and resides in Manhattan since 2008. Juan’s music blends elements from his experience as a recording and touring rock guitarist in Colombia and Miami, and extensive studies on East Asian music inspired by interaction with musicians and artists in China, Japan, and Indonesia.

As a guitarist, Calderon employs a somewhat soft attack but his music blends South American Latino melodies with interesting harmonic forms. In the 6 Songs on poetry by Octavio Gamboa he is joined by Stephanie Lamprea, a pure-voiced soprano with both an excellent technique and crystal-clear diction. The music is more of a general projection of mood through melody and harmony than a really word-specific setting of the poetry.

Calderon’s music takes a more interesting turn in the first of his guitar pieces, titled “Study for Atonal Chord Progressions.” Nonetheless, the dominant feel of his music is melodic and tonal: even in this piece, he consistently resolves the dissonances as he goes along, and for me this spoils whatever effect he had intended.

What makes this recording interesting is the superb manner in which his guitar is recorded, very up-close so that you can hear his fingers sliding over the strings as he plays. This gives the listener an immediacy that is not always present in classical guitar recordings.

Even so, it’s hard to get really excited over the music Calderon presents here. It’s very nice, and I particularly liked a few of the songs, but that’s about it. Worth hearing for Lamprea’s superb singing, however.

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter (@Artmusiclounge) or Facebook (as Monique Musique)

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