September 13, 1995
Hii tackles the baroque era's greatest master with "Johann Sebastian Bach: New Transcriptions for Guitar" (GSP 1012). This is no Bach run-through. He opens the disc with a stunning version of the "Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue," played with an unerring feel for the music's multi-voiced challenges. The fugue builds from a sparse, lonely succession of notes to a tumultuous fission of counterpoint.
He relaxes tensions with the "Prelude, Fugue and Allegro" (BWV 998) and two choral preludes transcribed from organ. But it is Hii's extraordinary effort in the famed "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" that commands attention.
His crisp, sharp attacks propel the "Toccata" forward with a gripping rhythmic momentum and edge, bold chords supporting rapid-fire tremolos. Listeners immediately are struck by Hii's confidence as an interpreter of such a taxing work. The "Fugue" opens mysteriously after a requisite pause, and Hii's intertwining, contrapuntal lines leading to the great climax form one of the more remarkable moments in the recorded guitar literature.
Anyone familiar with the "Toccata and Fugue" in Leopold Stokowski's orchestral garb - will be struck by the clarity and intimacy Hii brings to this new, personal version, which he transcribes to the key of A minor.
"It went through about a dozen revisions," Hii said by telephone from his home in Corpus Christi, Texas. "But I've tried to stay as close to the original as possible. I think people are frightened by the piece and I was, too - afraid not to do it right."
GSP Recordings of San Francisco is the only significant American label dedicated to expanding the solo guitar repertoire. The label proves its commitment again with these new releases. If the discs aren't available locally, contact GSP at (415) 896-1122.
© 1995 The Tampa Tribune