Stefan Grasse: Guitar Works of Thomas Wilson
Xolo CD 1039 (EAN 4250095882104) released 1 June 2015
Distributed by Galileo MC www.galileo-mc.de
Published by Xolo Music www.xolo.de
Thomas Wilson was educated at St. Mary’s College, Aberdeen. After serving in the RAF from 1945-48, he read Music at the University of Glasgow, and in 1957 accepted a teaching post there. In 1971 he was appointed Reader, and in 1977 was given a personal Chair. Wilson consistently played an active part in the musical life of the UK, holding executive and advisory positions in such organisations such as the Arts Council, The New Music Group of Scotland, The Society for the Promotion of New Music, The Composers’ Guild of Great Britain and The Scottish Society of Composers. Thomas Wilson’s works have been played all over the world and embrace all forms – orchestral, choral-orchestral, chamber-orchestral, opera, ballet, brass band, vocal music of different kinds, and works for a wide variety of chamber ensembles and solo instruments. In 1990 Thomas Wilson was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The artistic collaboration between Thomas Wilson and Stefan Grasse began in October 1990, when Stefan continued his musical studies at the RSAMD in Glasgow. It was during that academic year that Thomas Wilson invited him to his home several times to rehearse his guitar compositions under his supervision. After numerous performances including Wilson’s Guitar Concerto, Stefan Grasse now presents a recording of all compositions for guitar by Thomas Wilson.
‘Stefan Grasse is a gifted guitarist, very well equipped technically, and more importantly, a natural, even intuitive player, very responsive on the purely musical level. His performances of my own works, (Dreammusic etc.) have been among the most sympathetic and perceptive I have heard’ (Thomas Wilson, June 1991).
1-3. Three Pieces for Guitar (1961)
4. Soliloquy (1968)*
5. Coplas del Ruisenor (1971)*
6. Dreammusic (1980)*
7. Cancion (1977).*
Total Playing time: 39:06.
* World Premiere recordings
Fourteen years after his death, it’s about time Thomas Wilson’s music came back into greater circulation. He was one of Scotland’s pioneering 20th-century composers, whose musical language bears the modernist austerity of its time, but when you look beneath, has a soulfulness that softens the outward crust. These guitar works, played by Stefan Grasse, more than prove the point. The early Three Pieces combine motivic strength with emotional gesture and structural fulfilment. Grasse’s playing is purposeful, expressive and powerfully resonant. So is the Soliloquy, written for Julian Bream, and the later-written Coplas del Ruiseñor, Dream Music, and the imaginative Cancion. (Ken Walton, Scotsman, 25 July 2015).