The new solo album of the Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug, Day in the Sun, continues to explore the warm tones of the recently acquired 1944 mahogany-top Gibson «Bannerhead» LG-2 acoustic guitar (part of a series of guitars that were made during WWII primarily by women) that inspired the previous solo acoustic guitar album of Ploug, Alleviation (Songlines, 2017). Ploug recorded 14 short compositions, 13 penned by him and one by Danish composer Bent Sørensen (the piano nocturne «Barcarola»), as his new compositions are inspired by the solo piano music of composers like Sørensen, Hans Abrahamsen, Valentin Silvestrov and Dmitri Shostakovich as well as jazz pianists Craig Taborn and Jason Moran.
Ploug expanded his acoustic realm by playing a new hybrid flamenco-classical guitar from Granada luthier Manuel Bellido as an homage to the Spanish guitarist Josefina Robledo (1897-1972), playing as she did with real gut strings and without nails. The album was recorded at Black Tornado studio in Copenhagen in December 2021.
The opening piece «Nocturne» (and later the pieces («Robledo», a danceable song written for Ploug’s older daughter Ellinor, and «Dance of Minor Motive»), played on the flamenco-classical guitar captures the rich and warm, melodic and poetic sensibility of Ploug, performed with a natural elegance like beautiful, timeless but classic folk songs that tells engaging stories, or as Ploug calls it «genre questioning territory». The following pieces may be the most Scandinavian-tinged music Ploug has composed, associated with spacious and unhurried folk-like songs and harmonic landscapes and strong melodic characters. Ploug even adds that his «guide is always melody, step by step, slowly, and a feeling of being honest as well».
The so-called classical piano pieces like «Rosette», which extends an idea from Sørensen’s piano nocturne «Wiegenlieder», with «Dance of Minor Motive», «Hymn in E”» and Sørensen’s «Barcarola», as well as «Mosaic» which explores the development of an odd-meter pattern, stress the advanced and refined harmonic thinking of Ploug. This beautiful musical journey ends with the emotional piece «Isolde’s Theme», a song Ploug wrote for his youngest daughter on her birth, spicing a familiar expected harmonic progression with unpredictable colors.
Mikkel Ploug (steel string acoustic g, classical g)