After more than twenty years of performing and recording, the seasoned German guitarist Ulli Bögershausen can boast stacks of rhapsodizing concert reviews from newspapers and magazines anywhere between Los Angeles, Bonn, and Taipei. He has held audiences spellbound at intimate rural German venues, and he has left them open-mouthed at guitar festivals in Nashville and in the concert halls of Japan and Taiwan. His playing has been called “breathtaking in its intertwined harmonies and its unfailing timing”, his performances have been considered “as if from a fairy tale”, and his albums have been regarded as models of “sensitive string wizardry” and of “guitar music for the 21st century”.
Steeped in the tradition of the folk guitar, but constantly refined by his classical studies, Bögershausen´s playing continues to leave the audience with the best of both worlds. A breezy lightness pervades everything, tastefully balanced by an almost classical sense of formal depth and compositional coherence. Ulli Bögershausen has taken his time to develop a style all his own, quietly incorporating state-of-the-art skills, styles, and techniques all the while.
As a result, Bögershausen not only plays two or more independent lines at the same time, but also manages to give each line its distinct voice as if a complete orchestra were at work. His crystal-clear single-note runs make the 32nd notes sparkle intensely like effervescent water. Like legendary John Renbourn, Ulli Bögershausen has given the steel-string guitar an unheard-of sound of effortless elegance, whose liveliness owes little to the strict classical-guitar ideal of tone.
His international breakthrough, 1995´s landmark album “Ageless Guitar Solos”, deftly summarizes more than 30 years of fingerstyle guitar, easily matching original renditions by the likes of Leo Kottke and Alex DeGrassi in terms of feeling and virtuoso performance.
In his mostly balladlike original compositions, Ulli Bögershausen never seems to run out of surprising and intriguing melodic inventiveness. Executed with an airy charm and yet with the devotion of a real pro, Bögershausen´s pieces are accessible enough to make for instant listening delight, while crafted sufficiently complex to yield discoveries with each new encounter.
His latest release, “Chocolate And Wine” – its mere title suggesting a garden of delight for the connoisseur – breathes the spirit of Bögershausen´s new home on the picturesque Moselle River (where he also welcomes students for weekend guitar workshops in his “Mosella Music School”): The dreamlike view from his studio to the barges on the river and the vineyards on the opposite hillside has made his new pieces emerge even more intensely serene.
“Chocolate And Wine” leaves the audience again wonderfully loosened by the magic of good music. The melodies are so memorable, the performance is so relaxed that only upon very close listening will you notice the mastery behind such recordings.
Text: Michael Lohr