Spotlight on… Messrs Nick Fletcher and John Hackett….

To accompany the interview you can read elsewhere in this edition, here are your editor’s thoughts on the latest albums by these gentlemen….

First up is the latest guitar/flute album from John Hackett and Nick Fletcher: Hills Of Andalucia.

Modern Classical music? To many purists there is no such beast and ne’er the twain shall meet. Where does “Classical” cease to be “Classical” and become “Modern”? Well, I am no expert on that one folks, but what I can say is that when you have two proponents of “classical” instruments such as John Hackett and Nick Fletcher, the results are always an aural delight.

John’s brother Steve coined the phrase the “small orchestra” to describe the acoustic guitar many years ago, and how prophetic that phrase has proven to be? In the right hands there is very little that an acoustic guitar cannot achieve especially in the hands of someone as talented as Nick Fletcher. Add to that potent mix the scintillating talents of John Hackett on flute and the finished product is a thing of rare beauty and magic.

Once again, John and Nick have taken a selection of their own compositions and woven seamlessly between them a mix of pieces by modern Spanish, Latin American and French composers as well as a couple from the classical repertoire: Faure’s Sicillienne and Satie’s Gnossienne No 1 will be instantly recognisable but there is much more to this album than these established classics.

The album opens with the delightful Sonatina Mexicana by Carlo Domeniconi, a sprightly and delightful evocation of Mexico and its people - a Concierto De Aranjuez in miniature and it is joy from start to finish.

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Faure’s marvellous Sicillienne is next, a piece which has been used in countless films and TV programmes, this one will be instantly recognisable Strange that a Frenchman here conjures up something quintessentially Spanish in flavour.. Not that I am complaining as I could listen to music like this all day! The real heart of the album though, lies in the original compositions by the two protagonists, not least the wonderfully evocative and descriptive Las Aves De Seville (The Birds of Seville) is a superbly descriptive, one could say, musical travelogue hat vividly describes the city from dawn to dusk. This is pictorial music of the highest calibre and Nick and John weave their respective instruments back and forth in a sublimely descriptive suite.

The rest of the album is an enchanting mix of music which will take you away on your own flights of fancy while you listen to it as the best music always does. Modern or classical? I don’t know but what I do know is that I love it!

Nick Fletcher/John Hackett: Hills Of Andalucia. Hacktrax HTRX010.

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From the sublime to..the equally sublime next with Nick Fletcher’s latest album of classical acoustic guitar music: Blue Horizon.

Subtitled “Guitar Recital” that is exactly what this album is, a recital not only of some of Nick’s own compositions but a wonderful selection of pieces by some of today’s proponents of classical guitar.

The album opens with Unruhe by Johann Kasper Mertz and it certainly does not live up to its title as it is a sprightly gem. Letter From Vermont is a delightful slice of autumnal American from Nick himself. I think this one needs lyrics Nick, as it would easily lend itself to a song.

The Grand Parade … no not of Lifeless Packaging… is another delight, feisty and fizzing with humour. Balletto by Manuel Ponce definitely has echoes of one of Mr Hackett senior’s compositions hidden within it. Sprightly and yet restrained this is another delight.

The album’s title track is next. Shot through with innate humour, this one will bring a smile to the most jaded of senses whilst A Winter’s Journey (appropriate for the time of year that this review is being written) is altogether more sedate, melancholy but shot through with tinges of brightness, like the sun peeking through rain clouds.

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The remainder of the album is an equally delightful mix of Nick;s own compositions and those by several other modern composers, I guess you could almost describe it as a sampler and as such, having sampled it, I shall definitely be exploring more of this wonderful music.

Nick Fletcher: Blue Horizon. HTRX009.

For more information on Nicks’ music and releases check out: