Aleksandr Tsiboulski's debut recording for Naxos, "Australian Guitar Music," is nothing short of astounding, containing gorgeous compositions supported by masterful playing. Australia has long played a pivotal role in the history of the classical guitar with consummate performers like John Williams and innovative luthers like Greg Smallman. Naturally the country also produces composers who write extraordinary music that captures the unique harmonic intricacies of the instrument. Aleksandr Tsiboulski could not have been a better vehicle for delivering the exceptional music found on this recording. Born in the Ukraine and moving "down under" at the age of ten, Tsiboulski studied with Timothy Kain at the Australian National University and also with Adam Holzman at the University of Texas as a Fulbright scholar. Eventually this prodigious student began to win international guitar competitions, wowing audiences with his endless virtuosity and passionate playing. On "Australian Guitar Music, Tsiboulski showcases his innate ability to incorporate his flawless technical prowess with distinct impressionistic nuances. On the opening "Blackcastle Caprices" the pensive guitar parts sound more like a lute or koto rather than a traditional nylon classical. The explosive "Dervish" offers lush swirling sonic clusters with percussive slap bass style passages and modern chord voicings. The pacing of this album is excellent with the dirge-like "Grave" ultimately flowing into the lively "Guitar Dances." The composition " A Closed World of Fine Feelings and Grand Design" is a cinematic ballad featuring beautiful, reflective playing. Whereas the Spanish flavored "3 Capprichos for Goya" are platforms for Tsiboulski's fiery virtuosity. "Into the Dreaming" is a surreal musical odyssey and the final "Dijilili" is a pensive tone poem reminiscent of some of Pat Metheny's poignant ballads. Throughout the recording the guitarist's multidimensional playing draws out the essence of these unique and profound of compositions. Credit also needs to be given to Ross Edwards, Phillip Houghton, Peter Sculthorpe, Graeme Koehne, and Brett Dean for providing the amazing works found on this recording. "Australian Guitar Music" is a triumphant debut for a gifted performer who is sure to be at the very forefront of classical guitar music in the 21rst Century. This album is highly recommended for all listeners of contemporary classical music and will serve as an excellent starting point for those new to the genre.
© James Scott