The evocative ECM debut of the highly-talented Hungarian guitarist Zsófia Boros (born 1980) addresses a broad range of composition for her instrument, on this recording drawing primarily on music of the Americas. At the centre of En otra parte is music of Leo Brouwer (b. 1939), the Cuban composer who viewed the guitar as an orchestra and once declared that it has “no limits”. Brouwer’s work has been a major reference for Boros from the beginning of her musical journey. “Often I think I am holding the choice of music in my own hands,” she writes, “but later I wonder if the music has chosen me as a medium. My approach is always very intuitive; when a piece of music grips or touches me, I want to reflect it – to become a mirror and convey it.”
Boros first heard Brouwer’s “Un dia de noviembre” at a concert when she was around fifteen. Playing the piece changed, she says, the nature of her relationship to music. She studied at the Bratislava Music Conservatory, the Bela Bartok Conservatory in Budapest, and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, but gained her most important insights less through analysis than through “building up a direct relationship with every single note, every individual pitch” in a composition, through the experience of playing. “For me, pitches are like people; they have their own voices, their own durations, and yet their true character only comes to the fore in relation to other tones.”
Zsòfia Boros is the recipient of numerous awards, taking First Prizes at the North London Music Festival, the Concorso Internationale Val Tidone, the Paganini Competition in Parma, and the Premio Enrico Mercatali in Gorizia.
Boros’ choice of material uncovers affinities between music of diverse sources and intention. Her CD booklet quotes Roberto Jarroz’s “Todo comienza en otra parte” (engl.: “Everything begins somewhere else”)… From contrasts and juxtapositions a compelling album is shaped. Boros: “The stories of this album connect with one another in that they touched me with all their protagonists from the first encounter from beginning to end. I came to know them and now we are almost like old friends.”
Notes on a few of them: The programme opens with “Canción triste”, long a favourite amongst guitarists, by Francisco Calleja (1891-1950), the Spanish guitarist and composer who spent the last part of his life in Uruguay and Argentina.
“Callejón de la luna” by Spanish guitarist-composer Vicente Amigo (b. 1967) pays tribute to the spirit of flamenco: “The organization of the musical tale is less important than the feeling of it,“ says Amigo. “I can start at the end or the beginning and explore and insert many themes upon the main theme, adding little messages along the way.”
“Se ela perguntar”, a waltz by prolific guitarist-composer Dilermando Reis (1916-1977) counts now as a Brazilian standard.
Music from Argentinean sources includes “Cielo abierto” is by Quique Sinesi (b. 1960), a guitarist who has combined tango with elements of folk music, and drawn on the rhythms of candombe and milonga. In the 1980s he played extensively with Dino Saluzzi. “Te vas milongas” is from Abel Fleury (1903-1958), the composer-guitarist who loved the regional music of Buenos Aires and helped to propagate it. “Eclipse”, meanwhile, is from Argentine-born English guitarist Dominic Miller. Initially inspired by Jimi Hendrix, his studies in classical music and jazz also inform his work.
And Ralph Towner (born 1940), the North American composer of “Green and Golden”, needs little introduction here. His unique body of work, conventionally filed under ‘jazz’ has been greatly influenced by baroque music, contemporary composition, Brazilian music.
The composers whose work has been selected by Boros have been wanderers between worlds, musically, philosophically and geographically.
En otra parte was recorded in Lugano in 2012 and produced by Manfred Eicher.