Wednesday, April 27, 2011

James Kline's Versions of 2 Philip Rosheger Compositions

Philip Rosheger is a classical guitarist whom I had the pleasure to meet one day in Berkeley, whilst he was doing a little street-playing. Philip is paripatetic by nature, "passing through" as he put it then, so it wasn't unexpected that we quickly lost touch. But we did have a few brief conversations, and I attended a concert he gave in Richmond (CA) in a small church, where he played his own works in addition to some standards. Rosheger was a prodigy in his youth, studied with Segovia and lived in Spain for several years. He taught at the SF Conservatory of Music, and later (1979-1989) at Sonoma State. Perhaps he isn't better known because he moves around so much; I have no idea. People in the business know his name very well, but I had never come across it prior to our chance meeting.

Casually Googling him just now, I discovered the following three excellent recordings of Rosheger's original compositions, played by a another guitarist whom I was also unaware of, James Kline. Kline employs an unusual 11 string guitar, redesigned by him for his own use. Beautiful sound, though it looks a bit unwieldy. The first one, "Fog," seems inspired by the haunting sound of a fog horn on a quiet night. Fog horns used to be a common sound here in the San Francisco Bay, but they may have stopped using them, because I can't recall having heard them in some years. The second, "Sweet Compassion," is quite powerful and moving; and here is a third, "In Dreams Awake."

The classical guitar is perhaps the most congenial and intimate instrument in all of Western Music. It seems at times almost like a person speaking, in a voice both poetic and austerely grave. I sometimes wish I had taken it up at an age that would have permitted me to play some of the pieces from the instrument's repertory which move me so much, but that undoubtedly would have meant my devoting more time to it than I could well have afforded, given the breadth of my interests in the other arts. Professional musicians, even only moderately gifted ones, must allocate lots of time to their playing-skill, lest it fall into neglect. My instrument has always been the keyboard, but it was never my ambition to play it well enough to perform. I spend time nearly every day, however, composing on it.

I also found three Rosheger pieces played by David Russell, lively and lyrical.


J said...
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Kirby Olson said...

California has all kinds of good music. I ran into this the other day by John Mayall set to a scene from Pulp Fiction. Very groovy.