Contemporary Music for Guitar = ILKKA TURTA: Etudes I-X; LEO BROUWER: El Decameron Negro; TOSHIO HOSOKAWA: Two Japanese Songs – Ilkka Turta, guitar – MSR Classics MS 1491, 53:43 [Distr. by Albany] ***1/2:

The church in Finland where this was recorded tends to obscure the more incisive and lustrous sound of Mr. Turta’s guitar to the point of what sounds like a blanket being thrown over a loudspeaker. The treble simply doesn’t come through the way it should, and I don’t have any way of knowing whether the building itself is responsible or the engineers failing to properly capture the guitar—a church is an odd place to record the instrument. [Not if it has good acoustics, as Opus 3, 2L and others have proved…Ed.] Turta, himself a Finnish national and 27-year-old with a flaming technique, brings a vast amount of intelligence to this recital even though there are places where I was hoping for a little more passion. His own opus, the Etudes are quite ripe with lots of melodic snippets easily assimilated and remembered, with a good degree of concentrated tone painting deliberately based on imagery. For a thesis project this is really some exceptional writing, and it proves very enjoyable.

Brouwer’s name is a common one these days, known by music lovers everywhere, and ingrained in the minds and hearts of guitar aficionados the world over. His three-movement story, based on African folk tales collected by Leo Frobenius, are enthralling. The static utterings of the Two Japanese Songs by Toshio Hosokawa make for a surprisingly quiet and almost benign denouement to this effective, but short recital.

—Steven Ritter