softLOUD: music for acoustic and electric guitars

BBC Music Magazine: “grace to spare, and a roar that is fearsome… for Sean Shibe, anything is possible”

Gramophone: “bracingly original… spectacular”

Steve Reich: “one of the best recordings of Electric Counterpoint ever!”



Shortlisted in both ‘Instrumentalist’ and ‘Young Artist’ categories at the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, Sean Shibe makes his second outing on Delphian with a programme of radical contrasts that showcases virtuosity at both extremes. Where his debut album Dreams & Fancies paid homage to the guitar repertoire created by his great predecessor Julian Bream, softLOUD looks ambitiously forward, with a mix of electric and acoustic, early and modern, whose contradictions and challenges speak to our own times.

The gentle beauty of Scottish lute manuscripts and of two short instrumental solos by James MacMillan is confronted by, and holds its own against, music by New York-based composers Julia Wolfe – a work of cathartic grief and anger originally scored for nine bagpipes – and David Lang, whose electric violin work Killer is iron-clad in its abrupt fury. Shibe has arranged all of this music himself, and presents it here alongside a breathtaking recording of Steve Reich’s now classic Electric Counterpoint. ‘Have we today forgotten how to speak with grace,’ Shibe asks, ‘or is the real danger that we aren’t screaming loudly enough?’


Apple Music:

Presto Classical (CD):–softloud-music-for-acoustic-electric-guitars

1: James Oswald Divertimento I 

2: Wemyss Manuscript Ladie Lie Near Me

3: Wemyss Manuscript Mervell’s Sarabande

4: Balcarres Manuscript A Scotts Tune

5: Balcarres Manuscript Holi and Faire

6: Rowallan Manuscript Swit Sant Nickola

7: Straloch Manuscript The Canaries I

8: Straloch Manuscript The Canaries II

9: Rowallan Manuscript A Scots Tune

10: James MacMillan From Galloway

11: James MacMillan Since It Was the Day of Preparation: Motet I

12 – 14: Steve Reich Electric Counterpoint

15 – 17: Julia Wolfe LAD

18: David Lang Killer

WQXR Best Classical New Releases of October

Presto Classical Recording of the Year 2018 (top 100)

RBB Kulturradio 5 stars

“A stunning sonic maelstrom…”

“Sean Shibe is one of those bright young virtuosi who see programming as an act of creative challenge and responsibility rather than dull routine. Don’t be fooled by the initial delicacies on this disc. Though beautiful and simple in their own right, and played with gorgeous sensitivity by Shibe in his own guitar arrangements, they are merely the start of an absorbing aural journey that treads gently into the 20th and 21st centuries…”

– The Scotsman (full review)

“WOW! I couldn’t get my headphones off. Sean Shibe has made one of the best recordings of Electric Counterpoint ever!”

– Steve Reich

“The talented young Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe brings this bracingly original concert programme featuring music for acoustic and electric guitars into the recording studio. The results, like the performances themselves, are spectacular.

Shibe imbues the early Scottish lute pieces with a profoundly moving intensity that carries them far beyond their modest frames. Then they are torn apart in Julia Wolfe’s LAD, a searing siren song of lamentation originally for nine bagpipes.”

– Gramophone Magazine (full review)

“SoftLOUD is a gripping recital from guitarist Sean Shibe, dealing in extremes… beautifully touched-in accounts of pieces from 17th-century Scottish manuscripts… a definitive performance of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.”

– The Guardian, Erica Jeal (full review)

“an artist blessed with grace to spare, and a roar that is fearsome… for Sean Shibe, anything is possible”

– BBC Music Magazine (review); 5 stars and Instrumental Choice of the Month

“The first hard-to-ignore contender for the Scottish Album of the Year award from a classical label? I very much think so.”

– The Herald, Keith Bruce (full review)