On their debut Ravello Records release, RHAPSODY ON A RIFF, New Zealand composer Michael Calvert and guitarist Matthew Marshall present original works for solo guitar that display the versatility, dynamic range, and earthy timbre of the instrument, while developing a unique musical language influenced by serialism, New Zealand culture, and the guitar's tradition in several genres, from classical and folk to rock, jazz, and pop music.
The title track treats a well-known passage from the rock group Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water, while Lascivious Pleasing elaborates on phrases from John Dowland's Flow my Tears and the Beatles' Norwegian Wood. Written for the 2008 film Flesh in Ecstacy, Gaston Amoureux is based on the inversion of segments of the opening of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. Calvert applies Japanese musical structures in Suma, which is inspired by episodes from The Tale of Genji.
Fantasia in August references guitar works from Benjamin Britten and Augustin Kubizek, and was first prizewinner of the 2011 New Zealand Classical Guitar Composition Competition. Deriving its pitch material from Olivier Messiaen's modes, Eight Studies is a collection of exercises intended to provide students with accessible yet stimulating contemporary music. Marshall's playing is fluid and clear, commanding the six strings with energy and animation, and giving Calvert's compositions precise, passionate, and tasteful interpretations.