Sean Shibe: Camino


Sean Shibe’s mantlepiece must be getting mighty crowded. As his fourth album, and first for Pentatone, is released, its predecessor, of Bach lute suites and his third on Scotland’s Delphian label, has just won the Instrumental category in the Gramophone magazine awards.

Blazing his own trail, and in such clear control of his own career, the Edinburgh guitarist might seem to have made the most obvious album of his career with this new release. There is repertoire indelibly associated with his instrument in the public mind, and tunes by Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel that everyone knows.

We are in the borderlands of France and Spain over its hour duration – guitar country for sure – but there is a freshness about Camino that defies any familiarity. Partly that is due to the most-featured composer being Frederic Mompou, rather than the Frenchmen, or Manuel de Falla or Antonio Jose, whose compositions are also included.

The Catalan composer’s six-movement Suite compostelana gives the set its title, and is a product of Mompou’s close association with Andres Segovia. His Cancio I dansa, two of which are included here, were more often for piano. That those tracks impress in such company more than vindicates Shibe’s championing, but the real achievement of the album is the sequencing of the whole. From the selection from The Three-Cornered Hat that opens the disc to the Poulenc Sarabande that closes it, this is a flowing recital where every detail counts. It demands to be listened to entire – and often.

Keith Bruce