Review: Tamayo-Montesinos Duo, Classical Guitarists from Cuba and Spain

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November 23, 2013

Marco Tamayo was born in Cuba and took up the guitar at the age of 3.  Anabel Montesinos was born in Spain and began the study of guitar at age 6.  Both began performing as children. Each has won several major guitar competitions including the prestigious Michele Pittaluga International Guitar Competition in Alessandria, Italy, which Mr. Tamayo won in 1999 and Ms. Montesinos won in 2010 and are acclaimed solo performers.  Ms. Montesinos became a student of Mr. Tamayo which was a turn of good fortune for the now married couple and for audiences around the world who have had the opportunity to hear them play as a duo.

The November 23, 2013, Marlow Guitar Series concert opened with a flawless performance of J. S. Bach’s Italian Concerto for solo harpsichord, BWV 971 (1735).  For this piece and the concert overall, the Duo’s performance showed why two guitars are better than one.  With Marco playing a cedar top guitar and Anabel performing on a spruce topped instrument, and each displaying a different approach to the instrument, they created the feeling of the harpsichord, but with the more sensual colors of the guitar.  The first half of the concert continued with thoroughly enjoyable performances of  Sor’s L’Encouragement, a piece that is popular with guitar duos and closed with Mr. Tamayo’s transcription of Paganini’s Prima Sonata from “Centone Di  Sonate,”  originally for guitar and violin.

The second half of the concert was more modern and more diverse.  The first offering was a spirited run through three transcriptions of Beatles songs – The Fool on the Hill, She’s Leaving Home and Penny Lane by Cuban Guitarist/Composer Leo Brouwer.  Mr. Tamayo studied with Mr. Brouwer and his good feelings for his teacher and the Lennon-McCartney music was on display, particularly with the moving rendition of She’s Leaving Home.  The Duo took a sharp change in direction by playing the Cambridge Suite by Russian Guitarist/Composer Nikita Koshkin.  Mr. Koshkin best known for his piece Usher-Waltz for solo guitar, has composed several pieces for two guitars, including the Cambridge Suite, which can best be described as a late 20th century Russian interpretation of Scott Joplin as it features a ragtime movement.  While by this point in the concert the audience knew the piece would be beautifully performed, I suspect most of those attending were amazed that they played this complex 10 minute piece without sheet music!

After a short piece by the innovative Cuban composers Manuel  Saumell Robredo transcribed from the original piano by Mr. Tamayo, the concert closed with the theme song from what Mr. Tamayo described as Anabel’s all-time favorite movie – – The Little Mermaid .  Mr. Tamayo’s arrangement of Under the Sea turned this simple tune into a tour de force of guitar playing with interwoven solo lines and wide range of Cuban/Caribbean rhythms.

Following the extended standing ovation the Duo returned to perform an arrangement of Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca with 4 hands on one guitar played at lightning speed.  If you missed the concert or just want to see this again, it is on YouTube.

The concert closed with a haunting arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.  According to Wikipedia, since 1991 there have been over 300 vocal covers of the song and Cohen said in 2009, the song should be given a rest.  I’m sure if he heard the song performed by Tamayo and Montesinos he would be more than pleased.

— David Kirstein

Author: marlowguitar

Marlow Guitar International (formerly International Conservatory of Music) presents the John E. Marlow Guitar Series: Presenting Guitarists from all over the world! Posts written by Meagan Healy and edited by MGI, unless otherwise indicated.