The Seasons – Adelaide International Guitar Festival 2012

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Presented by Adelaide International Guitar Festival and the Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed Thursday 9th August 2012

The Guitar Festival began for me with a double bill of marvellous music from Tchaikovsky and Schubert. The first half of the concert features Slava and Leonard Grigoryan playing their father Edward Grigoryan’s superb arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s piano work, The Seasons, a movement for each of the twelve months of the year.

This is a very varied collection of miniatures with slow, moody movements, through to bright and cheerful episodes. The brothers presented a remarkable display of technique coupled with a superb musicality in their rendition of these pieces. They captured the spirit of each of the movements perfectly, from the quietness of January (By the Fireside), to the liveliness of February (Carnival) and the hectic pace of September (The Hunt). The advantage of their years of playing together could be seen in the almost telepathic tightness of the performance. There could not have been a finer start to the Festival.

Following the interval came another arranged piece, Franz Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter Journey), originally a song cycle setting the poems of Wilhelm Muller, for piano and tenor, rearranged for two guitars and tenor. The sad songs tell of the wanderings of a man unsuccessfully seeking his lost love and finally dying in a lonely forest. Oliver Fartach-Naini and Lee Song-Ou accompanied lyric tenor Henry Choo in fourteen of the twenty four songs in the full cycle, this selection made necessary by the time available in the second half of the concert.

This, too, was a superb performance, with Choo filling the songs with emotion and meaning. The guitar accompaniment from these two masters was superb, although I did find that I missed the lower notes of the piano version a little. Schubert has a way of making good use of the left hand in his piano scoring which did not work as well for me transposed to a higher range. That, however, was no fault of the musicians and was a personal response that, I am sure, bothered few others. It might be because, having attempted to sing this cycle in the past, I did find I tended to rely on those lower notes to assist me. That aside, this was a marvellous performance from these three excellent musicians. I particularly enjoyed their wonderful rendition of Der Leiermann (The Organ Grinder), the final movement in the cycle and always an especial favourite of mine.

This was a great start to the Festival, and there is so much more to come.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Guitar Festival web site

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: One performance only
Duration: 2hrs 10mins incl interval

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