Massif Trio

Jonathan Barlow formed the Massif Trio to perform his arrangements of German Lied for two guitars and voice. They were awarded two Recital of Distinction awards by the Lamont School of Music and were described as “one of the best we’ve heard in years” by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. In the summer of 2010 the Massif Trio signed with Azica Records and received a grant from The Allied Arts to record an album featuring Jonathan’s arrangements. Thier debut album Massif Trio plays Schumann, Schubert and Strauss is available worldwide and has been featured on Classical Minnesota Public Radio with host Alison Young (KNOW-FM 91.1). ALL MUSIC GUIDE listed the CD as a “Significant New Classical Release” and reviewed it as “a masterful performance filled with keen musical insight, evocative text painting, and enticing sound quality (4.5 out of 5 stars).” The arrangements found on the album are published by Clear Note Publications.

“Massif Trio produces a masterful performance filled with keen musical insight, evocative text painting, and enticing sound quality.Mike D. Brownell – ALL MUSIC GUIDE, CD review

“One of the best we’ve heard in years.” Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

“There have been a number of attempts to adapt the great Lieder cycles to the guitar or guitar duo. Jonathan Barlow’s version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe is the most successful that I have seen.” Jonathan Leathwood, Chair of the Guitar Department of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“Lieder singing with guitar accompaniment (instead of a piano) is not a new idea but using two guitars instead of one may be a first.” American Record Guide, CD review

 

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“Innovative…Jonathan Barlow has carved a place for himself” Classical Guitar Magazine

“Massif Trio produces a masterful performance filled with keen musical insight, evocative text painting, and enticing sound quality.” Mike D. Brownell – ALL MUSIC GUIDE, CD review

“One of the best we’ve heard in years.” Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

“There have been a number of attempts to adapt the great Lieder cycles to the guitar or guitar duo. Jonathan Barlow’s version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe is the most successful that I have seen.” Jonathan Leathwood, Chair of the Guitar Department of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“Lieder singing with guitar accompaniment (instead of a piano) is not a new idea but using two guitars instead of one may be a first.” American Record Guide, CD review

All Music Guide
-Review by Mike D. Brownell

Often done to increase the number of customers that would purchase a given musical publication as well as to reach a broader audience, the practice of transcription has been commonplace for centuries. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the practice was increasingly expanded to include more unique combinations of instruments resulting in products that could be peculiar or even unpleasant. Such is not the case with the tastefully and impeccably written arrangements heard on this Azica recording of the Massif Trio. Two guitars and a tenor are united for exceptionally enjoyable performances of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Schubert’s four songs on poems by Salis-Seewis, and Strauss’ Op. 29 Three Songs. Arranged by guitarist Jonathan Barlow, the utmost care is taken to ensure the original wishes of the composers were taken into account, even altering the tuning of the guitars to capture the complete range of the original piano accompaniment. The warm, gentle sound of the two guitars provides a wonderful backdrop for tenor Nathan Bird, allowing the subtle nuances of his voice to shine through without having to fight against the more powerful piano. As a whole, the Massif Trio produces a masterful performance filled with keen musical insight, evocative text painting, and enticing sound quality. At only 42 minutes in length, however, the short album will certainly leave listeners wishing there was a bit more on the program.

American Record Guide

Lieder singing with guitar accompaniment (instead of a piano) is not a new idea [but] using two guitars instead of one may be a first. It was done [here] to achieve a better balance between the singer and the accompaniment…[Among the] best performances here are Schubert’s simple and folksy lieder, like ‘Herbstlied’ (Autumn Song) and ‘Pflügerlied’ (Plowman’s Song).