Thursday 4 February 2016

Thomas Lyng Poulsen shows himself to be a particularly fine guitarist on his new release of solo guitar works by Villa-Lobos

Danish guitarist Thomas Lyng Poulsen  is a versatile musician who feels at home in many genres. He has appeared on several albums ranging from contemporary music to tango and pop. He has also been featured on national radio and has participated in a Swedish TV film about the guitar.

Thomas Lyng Poulsen graduated from the Music Academy of Jesper Sivebæk and Jan-Inge Wijk and has participated in numerous master classes with the world's leading guitarists. He is a laureate of international guitar competitions and made his debut with Berio's monumental Sequenza XI for solo guitar. He is active as a chamber musician. His repertoire spans from Renaissance to the present day with a particular interest in 20th and 21st century music, especially from Latin America.

During August 2014 and most of 2015 Thomas Lyng Poulsen worked intensively on the solo guitar works of the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, the result of which is the release of a recording of these works available as CD or download from

 Of Villa-Lobos’ Five Preludes (1940), Prelude No. 1 in E minor: Andantino espressivo Più mosso is finely phrased with Poulsen bringing a sultry Latin flavour. He is fully in control of all the rhythmic changes and brings out some lovely details, not to mention some lovely poetic moments. He brings a real flair to Prelude No. 2 in E major: Andantino - Più mosso, a freedom and panache as the music shifts around, whilst finding many varied sonorities.

Rich, darker tones open the Prelude No. 3 in A minor: Andante - Molto adagio e dolorido with Poulsen delivering a lovely rich tone. He is fully inside Villa-Lobos’ sound world in the way he paces and phrases the music with some quite exquisite moments. Poulsen brings a glorious sound to Prelude No. 4 in E minor: Lento – Animato – Moderato, beautifully paced and sensitively controlled with some fine fluency in the faster passages. Prelude No. 5 in D major: Poco animato—Meno—Più mosso brings a light, sunny brilliance, revealing further aspects of Poulsen’s fine tone and fluency.

Poulsen reveals all the reticent charm of the Mazurka-Chôro that opens the Suíte Populaire Brésilienna (1928, rev. 1947–48) with subtle, varied dynamics and a fine clarity. Schottisch-Chôro brings some exceptionally fine detail and fluency with beautiful phrasing. There is never a harsh note, Poulsen always finding a lovely tone.

Valsa-Chôro has a lovely rhythm and flow and some fine harmonies. This guitarist finds new textures at every turn and brings a great fluency in the faster passages. Gavotta-Chôro is beautifully paced with Poulsen finding some lovely textures, revealing a touch of melancholy in this beautiful performance, sensitive to every nuance. Chôrinho brings some fine rhythms, again superbly phrased with subtle control of tempi. There are some terrific faster passages as it develops with a particularly lovely coda.

The Valsa Concerto No. 2 (1904) is one of Villa-Lobos's very first compositions to survive. Thomas Lyng Poulsen brings some lovely flourishes to this work before picking up a fine rhythmic quality. Poulsen provides a fine clarity of musical line and extracts many fine timbres and textures from his instrument.

Chôro no. 1, "Chôro típico" (1920) brings lovely phrasing and rhythms combined with a terrific fluency. There are passages of fine forward propulsion as well as more variety of timbres and textures.

Poulsen provides some beautiful arpeggios in the Étude No. 1 in E minor - Étude des arpèges: Allegro non Troppo of Douze études (1929; rev. 1948/53), with a beautifully done little coda. Étude No. 2 in A major - Des arpèges: Allegro finds this guitarist bringing a great fluency and dexterity to the rising and falling motif.

There is great fluency and dexterity in the Étude No. 3 in D major: Allegro moderato revealing much detail in this intricate piece, brilliantly played. Étude No. 4 in G major – Des accords répétés: Un peu modéré - Grandioso brings some really fine textures, finely phrased.

The gentle Étude No. 5 in C major: Andantino—Poco meno receives an exquisite performance, sensitive to every little detail and nuance before a lively, finely accented Étude No. 6 in E minor: Poco Allegro.

There is a finely shaped Étude No. 7 in E major: Tres animé - Moins with Poulsen’s lovely phrasing and attention to subtle dynamics revealing so many facets of this music. He finds a gentle tempo out of which to draw Villa-Lobos’ lovely little theme for Étude No. 8 in C sharp minor: Modéré with moments of faster, fluent playing as the works develops, occasionally finding a darker atmosphere.  

Poulsen provides a fine delicacy in the Étude No. 9 in F sharp minor: Tres peu animé, full of fluent, free flowing passages. Étude No. 10 in B minor: Tres animé - Un peu animé - Vif receives much fire and passion with passages of more thoughtful intimacy in this finely shaped performance with a terrific coda.

There is a sultry Étude No. 11 in E minor: Lent—Poco meno - Animé with Poulsen finding so many textures and timbres as the work develops and becomes more animated. Finely there is a lovely Étude No. 12 in A minor: Animé - Più mosso  - a tempo primo - Un peu plus animé with Poulsen delivering a performance of great dexterity and clarity, finely phrased. A terrific way to round off this disc. 

Here we have a particularly fine guitarist. It is his ability to shape and phrase, to find new textures and timbres that brings these works alive. My HiRes download is full of detail placing the soloist right there in one’s room.

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