Rupert Boyd, Australia – March 15, 2014

Reposted from the International Conservatory of Music blog.

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We can feel the love.  450 people came out Saturday night to hear our John E. Marlow Guitar Series March 15 performance.

We heard a pre-concert performance by our Beatty Music Scholarship Competition Grand Prize winner, Infinity Willner. She played a wonderful Joropo by Merlin.

Then we sat back to enjoy the sensitive and evocative music of our featured performer, Rupert Boyd (Australia), making his triumphant return to the Marlow Guitar Series stage. He played Dowland, Piazzola , JS Bach, Fernando Sor and Granados and some evocative, contemporary music of Peter Schulthorpe, all of it with great musicality and charm.

This performance was one of the stops on Rupert Boyd’s US tour, organized in cooperation with the International Conservatory of Music (ICM)  and the Embassy of Australia. ICM’s Project Manager, Bill Herrmann, organized the tour, sending Mr. Boyd to perform in New York City, NY, Buffalo, NY, Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, Honolulu, HI, San Francisco, CA Flagstaff, AZ, Phoenix, AZ, and Muncie, IN!

We would like to express our thanks to the Embassy of Australia for their sponsorship of the splendid “Meet-the-Artist” Reception this past Saturday night. The weatherman cooperated by delivering a balmy 60 degree day and a full moon!  All and all, we would have to call the entire evening, super incredible.

Review: Deborah Drayer : Carlos Perez, Chile

JEMGSweb_squares_CP-smIt may have been a blustery February evening in the Nation’s Capitol last Saturday but that did not deter Marlow ticket holders from attending a superbly rendered program performed by Carlos Perez of Chile.  Fresh off delayed flights from all that fluffy white stuff the Northeast had endured, Carlos jumped right into his program and warmed the hearts of listeners with Dos Mazurkas by Manjon.  It was the beginning of an evening of comfort music with one delightful work after another.

The first half of the program was from the Spanish repertoire with two of the composers related by their studies with Tarrega.  But, first, Carlos gave us Manjon’s Dos Mazurkas, then he added the melancholic Aire Vasco with its remarkable and challenging passages of runs and arpeggios executed with disarming facility.  These were followed by the younger and longer lived Pujol whose Cubana made it difficult not to get up and dance — the muscle moving rhythms are so compelling it’s a shame to be seated for music so, literally, well, moving.  The Scottish Madrileno, too, was a dance form but could also be sung and it mimicked the voice in places were higher notes were held sotto voce for delicate emphasis.   This set ended with Damas’ Fandango Variado and all its dashing scales run over and over again with Olympian ease.  The audience was, then, well prepped for the second, southern half of the evening.

Round two brought us the South American’s in all their richness and color:  Barrios (Paraguay), Sagreras (Argentina), and Nazareth (Brazil).  Barrios’ Preludio Opus 5 is the kind of piece that gets the fingers moving in a way musicians love to play especially with it’s awesome coda, while the fanciful and fun melody of Maxixa, charming in its way, led nicely into the following work by Sagreras.  It’s worth mentioning here, that programming is an art in itself and good musicians know how to balance a program and lead the audience through the ages.  It can be done chronologically, by alternating centuries or decades to contrast style and musical development, or by grouping like-influences together.  Carlos gets that superbly well and demonstrated it in his own programming by putting space between Europe and the Americas.  These types of presentations teach us something about how composers are impacted by their own times and peers.  The programming itself can be a type of formative instruction and when one knows one’s craft, as Carlos does, it shows the composers and their work in a sometimes subtle, but revealing light.  Regis Ferruzza knows this too.  He’s always talking about how artists arrange their programs, and I trust he would agree, that this one gets high marks.

That being said, what impressed me most on this part of the program was the Nazareth Eponina — a slow waltz that just lusciously lulled the listener into the evening’s closing.  I imagined holding my child as an infant in my arms and dancing her to it to settle her in the evening before bedtime or comforting when it was needed.   What a precious gift it was.  There were many gifts last Saturday, but this one I took away in my heart.  Thank you, Carlos, for your gift and for an evening well told.

– Deborah Drayer

Review – Duane Morse : The Kupinski Duo

JEMGSweb_squares_KD_smThe Kupiński Guitar Duo

Reviewed by Duane D. Morse

The Kupiński Guitar Duo covered a lot of ground in their January 18, 2014 concert for the John E. Marlow Guitar Series, presenting a program that ranged from a Rossini operatic overture and three Chopin piano mazurkas to contemporary works for guitar by Sergio Assad and Dušan Bogdanović.  The guitarists, Ewa Jabłczyńska and Dariusz Kupiński, played flowing melodies and harmonies that moved back and forth between the two instruments and rose and fell with such perfect synchronization and breathiness that they almost seemed to be a single performer.

The program showcased the possibilities – and limitations — of the guitar-duo format.  Their arrangement of Asturias brought out both the intensity and sweetness of the piano original without seeming rushed, as most solo guitar performances do.  The Overture from Rossini’s opera La Gazza Ladra, which began with Jabłczyńska mimicking a snare drum on her guitar’s bass strings, was a surprisingly satisfying rendition of a piece originally written for an entire orchestra.  But the Chopin mazurkas, although pleasant and well played on the guitar, could not quite capture the tonal coloration and dynamic range of the piano originals. 

The highlight of the concert was Cenas Brasileiras, by the Brazilian guitarist and composer Sergio Assad.  Drawing on the full range of musical influences that infuse modern Brazilian music, the piece challenged both the performers and the audience with cascading virtuosic runs and shifting harmonies that repeatedly danced along the edge of atonality before returning to more familiar and accessible terrain.  Both members of the duo played flawlessly and seamlessly, but Dariusz Kupiński’s fluid technique was simply dazzling.

The second half of the concert featured a series of Spanish piano pieces by Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla, most of which were arranged for guitar duo by Kupiński.  Surprisingly, the duo chose to close the concert not with a guaranteed crowd pleaser, but with Sonata Fantasia, by Dušan Bogdanović, a largely atonal piece that demands the full attention of the listener and therefore typically would be played immediately after the intermission.  That the piece received a standing ovation is a testament both to the quality of the duo’s performance and to the sophistication of the Marlow Series audience that heard and appreciated it.

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