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Saturday, July 1, 2023

Yaron Deutsch - Live in New York (Self-Released, 2023)

By Eyal Hareuveni

Israeli guitarist Yaron Deutsch focuses on contemporary music and juggles with a busy international career. He is a professor at the University of Music Basel, a guitar tutor at the Darmstadt International Summer Courses, the curator of the International Festival for Contemporary Chamber Music in Tel Aviv, Tzlil Meudcan (updated tone in Hebrew), and founder and artistic director of the chamber quartet Nikel. But, surprisingly, some of his formative influences as a musician who plays new music on an electric guitar are raw and bigger-than-life live rock albums like U2's Under Blood Red Sky (Island, 1983), Neil Young’s Weld (Reprise, 1991) and Rush's Exit...Stage Left (Anthem, 1981).

When listening to Live in New York City, his second solo album recorded at Mary Flagler Cary Hall during the TIME:SPANS festival in New York in August 2022, it begins to make sense. Deutsch describes this album as his humble take and contribution to the genre of live recorded albums which was one of the most captivating formats accompanying him in his youth as a music lover. He presents five of his favorite pieces for electric guitar.

This electric guitar recital begins with a roaring version of Italian composer Fausto Romitelli's "Trash TV Trance” (2002), employing Hendrix-ian techniques of sculpting feedback and distortion into an inspired, psychedelic noisy texture. Deutsch follows with Israeli Composer Avshalom Ariel’s short and delicate but technically demanding “All the Boys Forgot About You” (2018) which requires the mounting of a mic on the guitar's headstock so it allows the listener to experience the sound coming from both sides of the string. Italian composer Pierluigi Billone’s “Sorgo Y” (2012) was written for “the left hand of Deutsch” and dedicated to him and is part of a cycle of Billone’s “Sorgo” homage compositions to contemporary composer Luigi Nono and guitarist Jeff Beck. Clearly, this extended composition challenges any interpreter as the left hand of the guitarist must embodies also the role and the articulations of the right hand, but Deutsch offers an enigmatic interpretation of it, with sudden yet precise surges of energy, with great focus on detail.

This performance is concluded with two recent compositions. Australian composer Lisa Illean's most beautiful and hypnotic “Tiding” (2021) for the solo electric guitar was originally commissioned by London Sinfonietta and premiered by guitarist Huw Davies. This composition belongs to a collection of pieces dealing with elemental patterns. It is subtle and seductive in its tone but stresses a tension between the vast and the intimate. The last piece is a world premiere of Deutsch’s close associate, Viennese composer Klaus Lang’s “chanson lointaine et douce” (2021), written after an “‘unforgettable road trip” of Deutsch and Lang, “together crossing thousands of kilometers in the heart of Europe”. This thoughtful composition sounds like it is based on a not-so-sweet ancient, medieval song, ornamented by mysterious layers of the 21st-century effects-laden electric guitar, beautifully performed like all pieces of this brilliant and insightful recital.