CD Review – Pat Metheny – Road To The Sun

Pat Metheny is generally seen as a jazz-rock or fusion guitarist who errs on the side of jazz more often than not. Over his long and fruitful career, not to say a prestigious one as you don’t receive twenty Grammy awards for nothing, he has produced several albums that would appeal to a prog rock audience, both in his solo work and that with the Pat Metheny Group or in collaborations with others. As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, Watercolors and The Way Up amongst others have such appeal.  For Road To The Sun though, Metheny has taken a new tack completely.

This is an album that was composed by Metheny but on which he invites others to perform his work. It is a classical guitar album performed by outstanding guitarists from the classical music world. Jason Vieaux performs the solo guitar suite Four Paths of Light and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant and Matthew Grief) interprets the title track, Road To The Sun. Metheny himself brings things to a close with what he considers to be almost a bonus track, an arrangement of his of Arvo Pärt’s Für Alina on a forty-eight-string guitar, an unusual instrument that falls somewhere between a guitar and a harp. As the piece was originally written for the piano, such an instrument obviously provides a greater range for the interpretation.

Although the resulting music has the air of a recital, it has a beauty and elegance and is, of course, virtuosic. While it might be a complete change of direction for Metheny it does retain the fluidity and inventiveness that is associated with the guitarist. The music is compellingly complex but has a great variety of moods and is at times quite stunning. There is an intricacy to the compositions that is engrossing and draws the listener in. The two suites here are substantial pieces of music and it would be easy to see these fitting into to the classical guitar repertoire. It might seem intellectual but the compositions are sonorous, melodic and highly impressive. Above all though, this is a very listenable album.

Jason Vieaux – Pat Metheny: Four Paths of Light, Pt. 1
Jason Vieaux – Pat Metheny: Four Paths of Light, Pt. 2
Jason Vieaux – Pat Metheny: Four Paths of Light, Pt. 3
Jason Vieaux – Pat Metheny: Four Paths of Light, Pt. 4

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun, Pt. 1
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun, Pt. 2
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun, Pt. 3
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun, Pt. 4
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun, Pt. 5
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – Pat Metheny: Road to the Sun, Pt. 6

Pat Metheny – Arvo Pärt: Für Alina (arr. Pat Metheny for 42 string guitar)

Release date: 5th March 2021

Label: BMG – Modern Recordings

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