Söllscher is an artist in the true sense of the word; whatever instrument he chose, you feel sure he would communicate the essence of the music. On this excellent album, he blends the familiar with the less well-known repertoire.
Record Review /
Classic FM (London) / 01. September 2004
The recording is close enough to be immediate, while avoiding the distracting extraneous noises of sliding calloused fingertips. The notes comment that 'Söllscher's guitar acknowledges no boundaries'. He frames his programme with lute music by Weiss, including a beautifully thoughtful 'Tombeau' with some extraordinary dissonant moments . . . charming and largely predictable music . . . exceptionally distinctive part-playing . . . A high point is a transcription of François Couperin's harpsichord piece 'Les baricades mystérieuses', bathing haunting suspensions in the sustained resonance of this super-guitar.
Record Review /
BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. October 2004
Söllscher has been plying many of these pieces in recitals for years, so it is particularly valuable to have them preserved on disc . . . Söllscher's exquisite timing and formidably clean technique (I can think of no other guitarist so remarkably immune to the squeaks caused by rapid changes of position) also prove the perfect vehicle for Couperin's popular 'Les barricades mistérieuses' . . . A memorable recital . . . and beautifully engineered . . .
Record Review /
International Record Review (London) / 01. October 2004
Le guitariste suédois donne le meilleur de son instrument: palette harmonique accrue, polyphonie enrichie, généreuse dynamique, son clair . . . pour un résultat plus que convaincant.
Record Review /
Diapason (Paris) / 01. October 2004
Göran Söllscher - Eleven-String Baroque
When Göran Söllscher was 14 he went to the train station in his Swedish home-town of Kalmar to pick up a Ramírez guitar which had travelled there, uneventfully, in a parcel from Madrid. He remembers the exact date: 30 December 1970. That superb guitar is still Söllscher's preferred instrument - except when, as in this recording of Baroque music, he uses the 11-string guitar built for him by Georg Bolin, which combines the qualities of the guitar with those of the lute. It can produce an incredibly rich and sustained sound, and expands the range of the guitar.
Today, with a good quarter-century as an internationally renowned soloist behind him, Göran Söllscher speaks of his instrument in an almost distracted way. His guitar may be called Ramírez or Lucille or Sven: it makes no difference as long as it conveys the musical message. Söllscher's relationship to music has always been guided by purity of expression. “Super-virtuosity and loudness are not for me. I do not want to communicate in a pushy or obtrusive manner, what the Japanese call being 'direct'. My goal is to achieve a scaled-down, no-frills, highly focused tone. The silence between the notes is also important", he tells me.
Söllscher's understated way of playing the guitar is really an extension of his personality. He is a modest and infinitely affable man with an eye (and an ear) sharply attuned to the comical absurdities of life. He tells the story of driving with his then eight-year-old son Johan and a little friend in the back seat when he overheard the following dialogue:
“Hey, Johan, what do you like best, pop or rock?" - “Mostly Bach."
Göran laughs heartily at this little exchange which also has a lot to say about his own preferences. He enjoys all kinds of music, listens to everything, and has recorded works by composers as varied as The Beatles, Rodrigo, Piazzolla and Schubert. But nothing beats Bach. Söllscher would definitely bring Johann Sebastian Bach to the proverbial desert island. “I never get tired of Bach. In his music I find ideas to last a lifetime. Bach's music is very rewarding but also very difficult to play. If you get out of balance, you can tell right away. If it does not sound good, you must blame me and not Bach."
Söllscher has recorded all of Bach's works written for the lute (recently reissued in the 6-CD set 474 641-2). On his very first album in 1979 he played the Fugue from the G minor Violin Sonata BWV 1001. That sonata is included here in its entirety, transcribed for the guitar. “A fantastic piece of music that I always dreamed of recording. I particularly admire the architectural equilibrium created by the four movements." Also included here is the so-called Air on the G String from Bach's Suite in D major. “I once heard the American lutenist Hopkinson Smith perform Bach's Air on the lute even though it was composed for orchestra. There and then I decided I wanted to do it on the guitar."
Many of the tracks on this CD are works that Söllscher has performed in concert frequently over the years and now, finally, has the opportunity to collect in a highly personal Baroque album. The composers Baron, Logy and Weiss were connected by a number of strings: Ernst Gottlieb Baron's Aria included in this recording is a piece Göran has often played as an encore. Coming right after Bach chronologically, Baron was one of the last to compose for the lute before it was replaced by louder instruments in the late 18th century. He wrote a book about the lute, published in 1727, in which he mentions Johann Anton Logy, or Losy, count of Losinthal, Bohemia, calling him a lute player of “extraordinary virtuosity" and complimenting him on his arduous attempts to enthrone the lute as “queen of musical instruments". Silvius Leopold Weiss, a contemporary of Bach, and one of the great composers for the lute, wrote the beautiful funeral piece, Tombeau, in memory of Logy at the time of his death in 1721.
Count Logy travelled with his lute, always keeping it handy if he got the urge to try out some musical notion. Original manuscripts of his have been found in various places in Europe, including Göran Söllscher's native Kalmar. In 1977 the guitarist had read an article in the Kalmar Museum review, announcing that a sheaf of Logy's dating from 1715 had been discovered in the building's attic. Nobody knows how it ended up there. “I grabbed my guitar and ran down to the museum", he says. “I sat in that attic and plucked my way through two or three hundred pages. When the Swedish king and queen visited Kalmar in 1978 I played this very piece for them, the Suite in G major."
Söllscher feels that Johann Pachelbel's music for the lute is unfairly neglected, and he treats us here to a suite by the Baroque master in F sharp minor (played in G minor) whose four movements bear intriguing subtitles: Allemande - L'amant mal content (The Dissatisfied Lover), Courante - L'amant soulagé (The Relieved Lover), Sarabande - L'amant soupirant (The Sighing Lover) and Gigue - Raillerie des amants (Fun and Games of the Lovers).
He has also included two pieces from Assaggi (meaning “tastes" or “trials") by Johan Helmich Roman, arranged by Per-Olof Johnson, who became Söllscher's guitar coach and whom he succeeded in 1993 as professor of guitar at Malmö Music College. “I became a student of Per-Olof Johnson at the age of 14. My father would drive me once a month all the way from our town to Malmö for my lessons. A whole new world opened up for me, and P.O. taught me, among other things, that a musical concept is by no means tied to a particular instrument."
Indeed Göran Söllscher's guitar acknowledges no boundaries. He tackles music composed for the violin, cello, orchestra, harpsichord or lute with the same zest. If there is something in the music he wants to bring out, he can always express it on his guitar. “I don't have to know exactly what thoughts the composer had in his head. It is my experience of the music that I try to communicate when I interpret it." Söllscher exemplifies this with François Couperin's Les Baricades mistérieuses. “I'm not sure what the title of this charming little rondo-like piece refers to, but the music speaks to me directly. I hope that it will also delight my listeners."
Göran Söllscher - A Biographical Timeline
“He is in truth a musician's musician." (Gramophone)
Göran Söllscher was born in 1955 in Växjö (Sweden). He grew up in Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden and started to play the guitar at the age of seven. After his musical education, including studies at the Malmö Conservatory (1975-77) and at the Royal Conservatory of Copenhagen (1976-79), Göran Söllscher embarked on an international career after winning the first prize at the “Concours International de Guitare" in Paris, in 1978. Since then he has performed regularly with all the major Scandinavian orchestras, made regular concert tours of Japan and China and played with the Camerata Bern, the Japan Philharmonic, the English Chamber, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, under such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Sir Alexander Gibson, Sixten Ehrling, Woldemar Nelsson and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In addition he has made frequent appearances on radio and television. Göran Söllscher's repertoire is exceptionally wide, ranging from Renaissance music to well-known standard concertos for guitar and orchestra, to contemporary music often written especially for him.
Three TV programs, concerts in Sweden and Norway. Record début on Deutsche Grammophon featuring works by J.S. Bach and Fernando Sor published in Sweden (Swedish Record Award, Deutscher Schallplattenpreis).
Makes his much acclaimed London début at Wigmore Hall in August; concerts in Island, Finland and Denmark. Swedish Record Award for LP with music by Dowland, Barrios and Ponce.
Göran Söllscher becomes an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist. Gives several concerts together with the English Chamber Orchestra in Spain and Portugal, performs in England, Germany and Czechoslovakia, and embarks on a highly successful tour of China with the Swedish Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble. Releases this year of his LP Cavatina".
Release of his LP Greensleeves.
Releases of Bach complete lute works.
First tours to Japan and Mexico. Since then Göran Söllscher regularly undertakes tours in Japan.
CD release this year of works by the Spanish guitarist-composer Fernando Sor.
CD release of works by Rodrigo, including the Concierto de Aranjuez, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Participates in the “International Homage to Joaquín Rodrigo", celebrating the composer's 90th birthday, first in Madrid and later in Puerto Rico.
Becomes a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Germany tour with recorder player Michala Petri; performances at the World Expo in Seville. CD release of suites and a sonata by J.S. Bach.
Stays with his family in Japan for a period of three months touring, teaching, enjoying; Germany tour with Michala Petri. Released this year: Paganini for Two, with violinist Gil Shaham, which reaches the top ten on Billboard magazine's chart of the best-selling classical albums in the USA.
CD release of Schubert's Quartet D 96 with flautist Wolfgang Schulz, violist Wolfram Christ and cellist Georg Faust.
Released on CD this year: Söllscher's album of songs by the Beatles, Here, There and Everywhere, which becomes another best-seller.
Invitation for a major tour in Japan including appearances as recitalist, as well as duo performances with violinist Gil Shaham and Japanese flutist Shigenori Kudo. Deutsche Grammophon releases Piazzolla for Two, with flautist Patrick Gallois joining Söllscher for tangos by the Argentine master.
His schedule includes a tour to Japan and appearances at the Verbier Festival.
CD release of Preludes, Songs, Homages, works by Villa-Lobos, Brouwer, Falú and a host of Spanish composers.
Performs works by Takemitsu with Patrick Gallois on the CD I Hear the Water Dreaming; also released by Deutsche Grammophon this year: From Yesterday to Penny Lane, a follow-up to Söllscher's triumphantly successful earlier Beatles album, coupled with Three American Sketches by the Liverpool four's legendary arranger-producer, George Martin, and From Yesterday to Penny Lane, seven songs after the Beatles by the famous Cuban composer-guitarist Leo Brouwer.
Appearances include performances in Sweden, Germany, Finland and Italy.
Becomes professor of guitar at the University of Lund, Sweden.
Recital tour with Gil Shaham including appearances in Paris, Milan, Turin, Siena and Florence, followed by a US tour of both artists in April. Deutsche Grammophon releases Schubert for Two, with Söllscher joined again by violinist Gil Shaham.
Appearances this year include recitals throughout Sweden and in the Ansbach International Guitar series. New CD release: Söllscher's album Eleven String Baroque.