If Melbourne composer Samuel Smith’s Bleed-through for guitar and laptop is “about” anything, it’s the mutability of memory. It receives its world premiere recording as part of Australian guitarist Callum Henshaw’s debut disc which, taken as a whole, is about the same thing.
Smith’s work was inspired by the phenomenon for which it is named. As magnetic tape deteriorates, its signal infects different layers, resulting in, “a ghostly prediction and recollection of the original signal, itself now significantly diminished… In Bleed-through, the guitar acts as an original signal, becoming surrounded and consumed by the whale song of its own echo.” It’s a spacious, saudade-saturated work, and a perfect end to an echo chamber of a recital resounding with variations on themes, including Henshaw’s own “return” to playing after injury interrupted this recording project.
Henshaw, who has numerous awards to his credit, begins his recital with Granados’ Valses Poéticos, delighting in the Spanish composer’s refined chiaroscuro, before moving confidently through Napoléon Coste’s programmatic Le Départ and Manuel Ponce’s unquestioned masterpiece for classical guitar, Variations sur Folia de España et Fugue to the endless vistas of Peter Sculthorpe’s From Kakadu. Henshaw has technique to burn, as evinced by his clear textures and considered phrasings. His however is a confidence born of reflection on, and recognition of, performance, despite its ephemeral nature, as embodied memory.