Over the last year and a half I have gone through periods of believing that recording my feelings of isolation and solitude would be worthwhile, but it didn’t take very long before I realised that I’d taken in enough meditations on loneliness for a lifetime. Instead, I’ve recorded something closer to the opposite. Some of these pieces are from my childhood; others reference a sort of ideal childlike state; but everything on this album has given me deep comfort and sustenance over a difficult and traumatic period.
Colleagues of mine have sometimes asked what it would take for me to get over my apparent aversion to the sentimentality of the Spanish repertoire traditionally associated with the guitar. I could, perhaps, tell those colleagues that a global pandemic would do the trick, but I would argue that all of the ostensibly Spanish composers presented here demonstrate the fecundity of the Franco-Spanish connection, and — to go further than that — Mompou, central to this programme, is perhaps more European than Spanish. He eschews all flamboyant piquancy; his homage to Santiago de Compostela instead softly adores, the ecclesiastical overtones never overbear; and, somehow, these pieces sum up pilgrimage at its most existentially humanist.
For Mompou, melancholy, aimlessness and a whole host of other feelings are not things to be avoided or fixed or solved, but experiences to be deeply felt; when his music reflects, it is less with sad nostalgia than genuine wonder and excitement at what this means for the future.
On which note, I want to mention that my producer, Matthew, recently told me that he’s expecting his first child in August — congratulations, Matthew and Maanti, and thank you. Hearing this news under lockdown felt genuinely providential, as if it were a sign or a reason to hope, and I want to dedicate this album to your August child. Here’s to you.
– Sean Shibe
Photo by: Dave Rowell