Twitter has been a marvelous resource for me. Much maligned by non geeks, especially since it has been ‘Kutcherized’ during this year’s phenomenal growth into the mainstream, I find Twitter to be an endless resource and a fascination that I visit daily. I have learned lots, met new friends, and networked with like minded artists and business people. Yes, I like it.
One of my most enjoyable Twitter connections is ‘following’ artists of all kinds. I discovered Stuart Weber somehow, surfing, responding, through an @ message or a DM (please Google a Twitter lexicon), I don’t remember. Anyway, we corresponded and I requested his newest album of guitar music, and it is my great pleasure to review it here.
Self-taught for the most part, with the exception of some later study with the great Christopher Parkening, Weber is a fine classical guitarist — fleet of finger, gentle of touch and very, very musical. The Fifth Row is his sixth CD. The concept for this album comes from the unique recording spaces. Subtitled An Acoustic Tour of Historic Theaters, Weber highlights eleven old theaters in the Rocky Northwest, featuring Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Weber’s home state of Montana. The production notes are first class, with lovely photographs of each gorgeous theater. Some are completely refurbished, some in need of TLC. But all are captured faithfully by the project and with much obvious love by Weber (acting as performer, producer, and engineer!).
For the recording, Weber uses two Neumann mics, one for the guitar and one for the space. I think somewhere in editing, we lost some of the space. The guitar is closely miked, which is no bother as Weber sounds so good. Whether playing passionately in his own compositions (Toccata), delicately arpeggiating the most wonderful chords, portamento, tapping the instrument’s body, or picking accurately through Baroque masterpieces (by Telemann and Weiss), each track offers the listener real pleasure of excellent artistry.
The program is eclectic, but selections such as Randy Newman’s Texas Girl at the Funeral of her Father are played so lovingly that they fit well with the classical pieces. Each track flows well and the story and pictures make for a pleasant accompaniment.
My favourite guitarists are Julian Bream and David Russell, both incredible artists, and Weber has some of their passion and tone. As such, he has produced something quite special here. I look forward to exploring his other CDs Recommended.