A Shining Showcase for Classical Guitarist

by John Chambless, Daily Local News (West Chester)

As a showcase for his thoughtful, uncompromising musicianship, Mark Wesling’s “Dream Dance” is certainly an effective marketing tool. You could not listen to this impeccably recorded CD and not be impressed.

Wesling, who has performed extensively in the Harrisburg area, moved to West Chester recently and is beginning to make himself known here. “Dream Dance” is a lovely introduction to his reserved, respectful approach to classical guitar repertoire, spanning the instantly recognizable “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach to new selections by Fernando Sor (Opus 35 No. 22 and Opus 35 No. 18) and Andew York (“Snowflight” and “Willow”).

His originals are similar in style. Nothing here runs longer than about three minutes, with the exception of the closing track, “Listening: Improvisation,” which proves Wesling’s amazing familiarity with his instrument.

Only his solo acoustic guitar is heard, and it needs no ornamentation. Beethoven is quoted on the CD cover: “The guitar is a miniature orchestra in itself.” Wesling proves that here, with 22 tracks of subtle melodies that establish a mellow mood and richly reward close inspection. Without resorting to the florid playing and overdubs that can mar acoustic music by Windham Hill artists, for instance, Wesling never overplays his hand or detours in distracting directions.

“Dream Dance” could be picked up by Windham Hill just as it is, and Wesling would hold his own with guitarists who have PR agencies and big-budget recording studios. His “Morning Song” makes the most of a lovely melody, and his eight-part “Divertimento for Guitar: Blessings of a Broken Heart” takes the listener on a meandering journey with a sure and steady hand.

“Dream Dance” is available at Chester County Books and Music, the Mad Platter and on Wesling’s website, www.markwesling.com.

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