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.