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Joy and Melancholy

Classical guitarist Sean Shibe reveals the secrets of his world, exploring the rich sounds of the guitar and its relatives in music from seven centuries.

In this fifth episode, Sean reveals the ‘interval of sadness’ that permeates the lute music of John Dowland and discovers various other ways the guitar and its relatives can express melancholy. And then at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum Sean plays music by Steve Reich and Luigi Boccherini that has him laughing out loud because of the pure joy that it conveys.

Sean Shibe is a young, award-winning musician who’s changing the way people listen to the guitar. In this six-part series he presents a personal choice of vibrant and varied pieces by composers from Spanish Renaissance masters to Steve Reich and Georges Lentz, with performers including Julian Bream, Elizabeth Kenny, Andrés Segovia, John Williams, Vincent Dumestre and Pepe Romero. Sean discovers the characters of the extended guitar family, from the oud, lute and vihuela to the Brahms guitar, decachord and electric guitar, and expresses straight-talking views on players of the past and present who have helped shape his own unique approach to the art of guitar playing. With his guitar on his knee he'll also be showing us what to listen for and what’s physically possible on the instrument.

Throughout the series we’ll hear Sean’s philosophical, intellectual and above all emotional take on the music he knows so well. He opens a door into a world that’s full of subtlety and contrast in its expression of culture and style. It’s a world that invites us in with all sorts of mesmeric and surprising sounds.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

59 minutes

Music Played

  • John Dowland

    Lachrimae/Seven Tears - 1. Lachrimae Antiquae

    Performer: Elizabeth Kenny. Ensemble: Phantasm.
    • LINN.
  • Dušan Bogdanović

    6 Balkan Miniatures 'for World Peace'

    Performer: Zoran Dukić.
    • GHA.
  • Steve Reich

    Electric Counterpoint (Fast)

    Performer: Sean Shibe.
  • Robert de Visée

    Prelude for theorbo in G minor

    Performer: Vincent Dumestre.
  • Antonio Jose

    Sonata for guitar - movement IV

    Performer: Ian Watt.
    • NIMBUS.
  • Sylvius Leopold Weiss

    Ciaccona in E flat major

    Performer: Jakob Lindberg.
    • BIS.
  • Luigi Boccherini

    Quintet No.4 in D for guitar and strings - III & IV

    Performer: Pepe Romero. Performer: Iona Brown. Performer: Malcolm Latchem. Performer: Stephen Shingles. Performer: Denis Vigay. Performer: Tristan Fry. Ensemble: Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble.
    • PHILIPS.
  • Agustín Barrios Mangoré

    La Catedral

    Performer: John Williams.
    • SONY.
  • Georges Lentz

    Ingwe - bar 487

    Performer: Zane Banks.
    • NAXOS.
  • Roland Dyens

    Triaela I. Light Motif (Takemitsu au Bresil)

    Performer: Thomas Viloteau.
    • NAXOS.