Ferenc Snétberger guitar
Concert recording December 2013, Liszt Academy, Grand Hall, Budapest
Engineers: Stefano Amerio, Giulio Gallo
Mixed at Artesuono Recording Studios, Udine by Stefano Amerio, Manfred Eicher, and Ferenc Snétberger
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: March 11, 2016
Recorded live in December of 2013 at Budapest’s Franz Liszt Academy of Music, In Concert archives a deeply personal performance by Hungarian guitarist Ferenc Snétberger. As his ECM debut, it instantly calls to mind Ralph Towner’s Solo Concert in format, sharing further affinity with Keith Jarrett for including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as encore. The ECM comparisons are more than cursory, as Snétberger grew up inspired by the label’s stalwarts, including Egberto Gismonti and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Much of the eight-part suite, entitled “Budapest,” that comprises the program is improvised, though built around heartfelt melodies of Snétberger’s design. Amid a spiraling association of history and spontaneous creation, an original voice emerges. “Part 1,” for instance, builds its castle on a faraway hill yet makes it feel as if it overlooks our own back yard. The cleanliness of tone, coated in just the right amount of varnish, resonates with a depth matched only by the recording. “Part 2” is meant to evoke Bach’s tonal voicings, and beyond that embraces a certain intimacy unique to the German composer. With a lyrical assurance that’s never cloying, Snétberger taps into something essential, as also in the Astor Piazzolla-inspired “Part 3,” wherein every sway of the curtain reveals a biographical whiff of the breeze that moved it. The samba sandwich of “Part 4” contains a monophonous passage of astonishingly vocal quality. The freely improvised “Part 5” serves as a virtuosic segue into “Part 6,” which treats the surface tension of a pond as canvas for photorealistic sound painting. If “Part 7” is the sunlight, then “Part 8” is the tree intercepting it for shade: an ideal vantage point from which to ponder the concluding rainbow in all its quiet glory.
Having mentioned Towner and Jarrett at the start, it’s only fitting to end with them in mind, as much to say that Snétberger’s ECM debut belongs rightly alongside those giants of solo improvisation.