April 24, 2017
Margarita Escarpa performance March 18, 2017
by Deborah Drayer
The John E. Marlow Series had nearly a full house on Saturday as Margarita Escarpa graced Westmoreland Congregational Church with its magnificent acoustics and a program of Spanish and Mexican music punctuated by Wolfgang Lendle’ stunning take on Caprice No.24 by Paganini. We often hear Spanish music from guitarists of varying nationalities, but hearing it direct from this genuinely accomplished Spaniard was an extra special treat. While many of us are more familiar with the likes of Rodrigo, Albeniz, Ponce, Tarrega and Piazzolla however, it was the Variations Capricieuses d’apres Paganini that demanded the most technically of Margarita even as some variations leaned into the humorous for effect.
The Lendle Paganini arranges the original thematic material for solo violin for the modern acoustic guitar, introducing fingering Paganini himself might have found challenging had he been a guitarist. Scales and arpeggios fly off the strings with enormous effect but only if both of the artist’s hands are up to it. Fortunately for the assembled, Ms. Escarpa had no difficulty meeting the challenge and any less calloused player would have walked away with a box of band aids in their pockets. But, Margarita needed no first aid and came back for the second half of the program with fingertips intact and serenaded us with habaneras and tangos by Tarrega, Sainz de la Maza and Piazzolla, as well as Ponce’s now rarely performed Variations sur “Folia de Espana” et Fuge.
Margarita was the last of our classical guitarists on this season’s program but Billy Novick and Guy Van Duser will end the season on an upbeat swing-jazz note you won’t want to miss. So make a calendar note for April 22 at 8:00 p.m. at WCC on the Westmoreland Circle.
Saturday, February 25th brought us another international guitarist celeb marking the fourth of just six features on this season’s Marlow Guitar Series. It’s always so nice to travel to foreign lands without having to leave one’s own back yard and Saturday’s adventure to Greece (for much of the program) transported us to a realm of ancient classical poetry updated for modern ears.
Tarrega was a traditional warm up hailing from the Iberian peninsula with Endecha y Oremus and Antigoni Goni, our artist of the evening, put her Andrea Tacchi guitar to good use in her presentation of the work. Wonderful sounding instruments like Spanish and Latin music and for good reason: the maker, a Florentine by birth, began making guitars at the young age of fifteen and sought out the most prominent Latin and Spanish luthiers to establish himself as one of the preeminent craftsman of today. It’s no wonder Tarrega’s work hums and strums so naturally on these fine acoustic instruments. But, that’s to be expected.
What was not anticipated was the application of Ms. Goni’s instrument to the more esoteric work by Dusan Bogdanovic . Carved out of a two thousand year old ancient Greek column, Bogdanovic’s Hymn to the Muse takes its theme from the Seikilos epitaph, the oldest surviving complete musical composition known to date. The Epitaph is inscribed: “I am a portrait in stone. I was put here by Seikilos, where I remain forever, the symbol of timeless remembrance.” And, the poetic text with music is inscribed: “While you live, shine. Have no grief at all. Life exists only for a short while and time demands an end.” This original melody is re-imagined by Bodganovic in a blend of pythagorian and modern dissonant tonality, the setting somewhat haunting yet accessible. It’s about loss and living beyond to one’s own end. Fitting advice from the ancients, as the Greeks so well must have lived it. This work, having been dedicated to Ms. Goni, was a deeply personal interpretation as was her presentation of Mikis Theodorakis’ trio of pieces alternately using the guitar as both a percussion and string instrument. Just goes to show how interesting listening outside the box can be, and Ms. Goni demonstrated that for us on Saturday.
See you next time, when Margarita Escarpa joins Marlow again for what is sure to be a well attended evening. Don’t delay. Buy your tickets today! www.marlowguitar.org