Dr. Robert Illesh is of Austrian-Hungarian descent, he has a first class physics degree and a post-graduate teaching certificate from Birmingham. He also is a PhD in physics education from Oxford demonstrating academic excellence.
Generally this information won't ring a bell to most prog heads, but for those who are rather deep into progressive rock music the name Robert Illesh will certainly ring a bell. He's best known for his work as a guitar player for the British Yes tribute band Fragile. He toured with them in several parts of the world, sometimes even with Steve Howe as a guest guitarist. Together with some of his musical friends from Fragile, he released in 2008 Aquaplanage, the debut album from the band with the same name that got a positive review on our website (see review). Lately he also did a guest performance for an Italian Yes tribute band. With Yessongs Italy he proved to be an extraordinary guitar player as I could notice myself during their concert in venue De Pul in Uden (see review).
His first solo album Golden demonstrates again how talented Illesh is as a guitarist and as a composer. All nine tracks on Golden are performed on the acoustic guitar, but that really didn't matter to me. All compositions easily kept my attention and I never got the feeling that I was listening to background music. All pieces sound very tastefully, always keeping the melody in mind and showing some passion. With the help of The Reflection Strings with Sarah Turner on violin and viola and Val Banks on cello, he added a classical touch to the music. On Autumn Illesh played the recorder which surprised me a bit, but it surely sounds great. It's obvious that I was inclined to compare his playing to musicians as Steve Howe and Steve Hackett, but also Gordon Giltrap, Nick Fletcher and Anthony Phillips came to mind. All these musicians have the ability to entertain with just a simple acoustic guitar. Well, Robert Illesh surely belongs to the same category. It's not that strange if you know that he started playing at the age of eleven. A year later, his first guitar gig involved a classical guitar recital of Yesterday by The Beatles. During his teen years he studied scales, licks and chords, wrote songs and played in bands. By the age of seventeen, Robert Illesh had well mastered the rudiments of jazz, classical and rock playing.
People who are in for some fine acoustic guitar music with a classical touch should listen to Golden. But also people who like the acoustic guitar albums made by Steve Hackett, Steve Howe, Gordon Giltrap and Anthony Phillips should try this fine release. However, if you only like your progressive rock music bombastic with lots of keyboards, fierce guitar solos and other rock elements then you can better skip this finely strung album. You won't hear these on Golden.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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