Following on from Reinventing Guitar Vol 1, Greek classical guitarist Smaro Gregoriandou here combines innovative guitar technology with wide-ranging musicological research and a formidable technique to bring ancient sound worlds alive. For this recording Gregoriandou uses four extraordinary modern instruments: a double-course pedal guitar and a single-stringed pedal guitar with scalloped frets, both in soprano and alto sizes. It might sound gimmicky but the results speak for themselves.
Take the five Scarlatti sonatas with which the program begins, all but one played on the double-course instrument. The rich, bright sonority of the harpsichord is evoked rather than made explicit, while the Iberian flavour of the music is underscored by the complex timbre and Gregoriandou’s fluid articulation and ornamentation. Bach’s famous Prelude, Fugue and Allegro BWV 998 benefits from the crisp, slightly dry sonority of the scalloped frets while in the following Toccata BWV 914 Gregoriandou employs the double-course instrument to great effect; the fugue is especially impressive in clarity and colour.
The scalloped-fret guitar works well with the Handel items, The Harmonious Blacksmith and the Chaconne No 2. Gregoriandou’s phrasing and tonal balance is incisive and compelling, the cumulative effects the luminous offspring of the union between intellect and emotion.