Hannah Murphy’s “A Dream in the Forest” Is a Classical Guitar Fan’s Dream

Classical guitarist Hannah Murphy

There’s a healing property in the classical guitar’s sound, a sound sorely needed in today’s world of government and media alike insisting the band play on and you’re a hater if you notice the ship is rapidly taking on water. The instrument leans toward quiet contemplation, with its relative volume noticeably lower than other polyphonic tools such as the piano or organ. The late master Andrés Segovia said the guitar’s sound contained allusions to the flute, cello, and oboe, which is a matter of personal observation. The guitar is usually classical music’s odd man out, as unless it is by itself, it is almost impossible to hear, let alone properly.

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Young Brooklyn-based classical guitarist Hannah Murphy, having no doubt endured enough Hannah Montana jokes to last several lifetimes, last year independently released her debut CD A Dream in the Forest. For those seeking a quiet moment, it’s well worth a listen.

Murphy’s playing is delicate without excessive preciousness. There is a genuine warmth in her approach, one emphasizing humanity over mechanical technique. It’s not that there is any sloppiness or discarded precision. Instead, Murphy brings a welcome personal charm to the music. While listening to Murphy an easy enchantment takes hold, making the music increasingly welcome while eagerly anticipating future releases.

The CD mixes romantic and modern pieces, with the former’s compositional strength strongly outshining the latter. This is most noticeable in Nikita Koshkin’s “Usher Waltz,” allegedly inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of The House of Usher.” Regrettably, after a promising beginning, its quick exhaustion of musical ideas and rapidly inserted substitution of demanding technique in lieu of anything to say makes it apparent any Poe-derived inspiration centers on emulating “The Tell-Tale Heart,” specifically its narrator. That said, Murphy’s sheer skill in wrestling the melodic out of a jumbled music mud pie makes it at least tolerable.

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A good number of young classical artists in multiple areas are rising to public notice. Some are on major classical labels, while others, such as Hannah Murphy, are going the self-contained route. A Dream in the Forest is a delightful listen from someone who already richly deserves a listen and shows every sign of becoming something truly remarkable.

The CD is available on Murphy’s website and can be found on all major streaming and download sites.

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