Presented by Adelaide International Guitar Festival and the Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed Friday 10th August 2012
A group of emerging guitarists from the Elder Conservatorium of Music, under the umbrella title of Guitarissimo, opened the concert, beginning with two solo pieces and then several works played by a ten member ensemble. Jed Rowland opened the evening with the Prelude No.2 of Heitor Villa-Lobos, followed by Aloysius Leeson, who is making quite a name for himself for his fine playing, with Rafael Rabello’s arrangement of Medinha by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The ensemble then opened their part of the evening with Leonardo Bravo’s arrangement of Whiskey, by the great Argentinean composer and bandoneon player, Astor Piazzola. These three distinctly different works show just how much the music and composers of Latin America have had, and continue to have on the guitar repertoire.
Both Rowland and Leeson exhibited considerable technical skill and an affinity for the pieces they performed, getting the concert off to a good start and paving the way for the ensemble pieces. The ensemble’s second piece, closing the first half, was Philip Houghton’s Suite of Six Trios, an interesting and challenging work with plenty of variation. The Ensemble members acquitted themselves well with some very tight and expressive playing.
After the interval Ana Vidovic, in a stunning deep blue and silver, ankle length dress, took us straight back to Latin America with her opening number, three of the Four Pieces, by Astor Piazzola. His wonderfully rich and imaginative compositions, based in the Tango, are always a welcome inclusion in any concert. Vidovic gave a splendid rendition of these three movements, the followed up with Toru Takemitsu’s arrangements of Over the Rainbow, and Yesterday, the Beatles hit song.
Vidovic’s playing was inspired and inspirational. There is an exceptional fluidity to her playing and she seems to get right to the core of each piece, expressing the full meaning of the music. The lightness and delicacy of her touch makes it look as though her fingers are almost floating over the instrument.
Francisco Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Isaac Albeniz’s much loved Asturias followed, in one of the best renditions I have heard, then another larger work, Mario Castelnuovo Tedsco’s Sonata in D Major , Op. 77, of which I, unfortunately, heard only two of the four movements, not hearing any of Augustin Barrios Mangore’s La Catedral. The show ran well over time and I had to be elsewhere.
Poorly seated, right by the door, coupled with the ridiculously early scheduling of a 6pm start on a week day, meant that people were intermittently arriving late for a considerable part of the concert, with the continual distractions of whispering and noise of movement, then a quick rush to get to seats during moments between works or movements of a work. This is no place to seat a critic.
Adding to this, somebody turned on the fluorescent lighting in the bio-box flooding those back rows in light, and took quite some time to turn it off again. Possibly they were trying to sort out the dreadful errors in the stage lighting at the beginning of this concert. Fortunately, most of this settled down early in Vidovic’s half of the recital.
Timekeeping is a problem, coupled with the overly tight scheduling of performances. Due to end at 7:45, the concert still had a long way to go when I was forced to leave to review the performance in the Festival Theatre at 8pm. From the number of people arriving in the Festival Theatre between 8:20 and 8:30, disrupting the concert there, I gather that this concert ended at around 8:15, half an hour late. Had I known what I was about to face in the Festival Theatre, I would have stayed on as well.
This was an excellent concert, marred somewhat by circumstances.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: One performance only
Duration: 2hrs 15mins incl interval (advertised time 1hr 45mins)