“Scarlatti is just as much a delight to play as he is to be heard on the receiving end by ticket holders. One might say it’s the thrill of the trill that lures in the listener, but it’s so much more. Simon Powis, one fine Australian and soon to be American, gave us more on Saturday the 25th with his practiced elegance and accomplished ornamentation of three Sonatas by this eminent composer of the harpsichord – an instrument which lends itself nicely to transposition on an adeptly plucked and fretted acoustic guitar. The skill in turning these sonatas, made for up to 50 strings, however, into a work for six strings is, in and of itself, a daunting occupation. But, to do so with equal musicality and skillful decoration raises Dominico’s art to another level entirely. One could easily argue that trills, mordents and embellishments are far more complex in a guitarist’s hands than those of a harpsichordists. The guitarist isn’t just depressing a key from which an articulated sound pours forth. His instrument requires far more finessing and calculation – the fingers needing to know precisely where those arpeggios go rather than merely striking a key and voila – out comes the note. Try it sometime, I guarantee you you’ll be stumped.
But, Mr. Powis was not stumped. He breezed through the courtly K491, to the melancholic reverie of K208, and ended with the cat and mouse-ish chase of K209 all with metronomic precision. All else that followed took on its own form, from the stream of consciousness lines in Armand Coeck’s Constellations to Giuliani’s Rossiniana 1, op.11 through Walton’s Bagatelles with its Satie-esque Lento and lyrical Alla Cubana, Turina’s toreodorish passages and ending on Piazzolla’s Tangos with the La Muerta de Angel providing an impressive ending to a program that spanned the Baroque to the 20th century.
We’re getting spoiled this year, you know, with all these new young hands bringing us something unique from their respective continents and fanning the fire for this series ever higher, and Spring promises even more with the seasoned John Feeley of Ireland up next on March 24th and our 2011-2012 finale provided by a much beloved and cherished Pepe Romero on April 14th. Hope to see you there…”
Silver Spring, MD