'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fantastic Mr Felix - Standing on Air by Robin Hill

Fantastic Mr Felix is the third track on the album, 'Standing on Air' and we have been delighted with the feedback.
I've received many emails, comments and messages, all saying that they simply can't get the tune out of their heads!

The inspiration behind the piece was our youngest son, Felix. It reflects his ebullient and good-natured character and his boundless energy.
Before I hear cries of favouritism, I'd like to remind readers that our eldest son had an entire concerto composed for him, 'Concerto Primavera', performed by members of the Liverpool Philharmonic, you can read the review and more about it here.

'Fantastic Mr Felix' is a highly coloured and energetic piece with a South American feel. This is partly due to the huge array of percussion instruments which include the guiro, cajon bongos, cuica, shakers etc. but also the Andean charango.
When Robin composed the piece he always wanted the distinctive sound of the charango to be a prominent feature, however, it was actually added towards the end of the recording process.
At the time Robin didn't own a charango, but luckily, he found one whilst on his frequent travels, in New York, promptly purchased it and after a few days familiarizing himself with the unusual tuning, he added it too the track.

There are two guitar cadenzas within the piece, the second of which, an extended run of descending semiquaver triplet slurs, seems never ending and sounds like Robin will run out of fingerboard before he finishes!
To inject a little humour the flexotone can be heard at the end of this perilous descent. The entire sequence was recorded in one take.

The lead guitar is a rapid and rhythmic series of question and answer phrases with some effective glissandi up to the top notes. These were all played as one part, not on two guitars as it may initially appear. Very rapid and accurate change in hand position is required.

At various points throughout the track a highly rhythmic, funky triangle can be heard. To prove that not all instruments have to be highly expensive, this triangle was actually taken from the children's toy box...

The cuica drum is an unusual instrument which adds a touch of exoticism with its jungle sounds. Robin's frequent travels to South America and his love of Brazilian music in particular, have surely influenced his choice of this instrument.

It's quite remarkable that every sound you hear on this track has been produced by Robin. His eclectic musical background has certainly served him well.
Whilst the guitar is heavily featured the final comment for the whole piece is left to the bongos, with a subtle and atmospheric sound achieved by guitarist's nails!

To listen to some of the track (it's the first one in the player at the top of the page), or to buy 'Standing on Air', you can visit Robin Hill's website, or one of the many digital download sites, ie, iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby.

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