This is a CD that shows that good music is hard to categorise. Wrexham-born Braid is a classical composer only because he’s on a classical label and plays classical guitar, but with a nudge in any direction this could be jazz or acoustic/folk pop. His mingling of jazz with folk and classical make this an appealing CD, and it’s a pleasure to listen to.
The first track is On Silver Trees, a short, single movement setting of Walter de la Mare’s poem Silver, describing the silvering of a landscape by the moon’s reflected light. It’s a beautifully still piece of music, just piano and electric guitar; simple but very effective. The two instruments go together well.
Invocation And Continuum follows and it’s equally beautiful, a duo for flute and classical guitar. Again the sound is sparse — he cites Glenn Gould as an influence, and the silence in Goldbeg must be an influence. Less Gould is the guitar, which in places gets quite energetic, more Nick Harper than anything.
The album continues in this vein, calm and well mannered, the overall feel somewhere between peacefully drifting in space and lying peacefully in a summer’s-day field. More than one section put us in mind of Lark Ascending.
It’s hard to pick a standout, as it’s all good. Songs Of Contrasting Subjects is the settings of four poems of Shakespeare and one of Bunyan, all dealing with contrasts, and the opening piece She Goes But Softly (Bunyan writing of a snail) is great: electric guitar and the mezzo-soprano of Emily Gray.
It’s all really interesting; intense yet not demanding, gentle but never dull. Despite being modern and using electric guitar, it often sounds like early music, too.
It’s out on Divine Art’s Metier label, MSV28575. Also appearing is Peter Cigleris (clarinet), Claire Overbury (flute), Elena Zucchini (guitar), and Rossitza Stoycheva and Sergei Podobedov (piano).
Christmas is coming: this is a good gift for someone who likes reflective music and would appreciate something a bit different.