Soundcheck Photo & Audience Review : Zoran Dukic, Classical Guitarist from Croatia

Saturday, January 24, 2015

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I greatly enjoyed Zoran Dukić’s recital last night. The audience reaction was phenomenal before he even started to play. I don’t ever remember applause that had a performer stand up a second time after a piece at the Westmoreland Church, and on at least four occasions at that! I would rate him among the top 2-3 guitarists who have played at the Church.

Dukić performed with sensitivity and was able to differentiate between melody line and accompanying voices which were much softer. I was particularly impressed where he let the sound of a single note slowly vanish at the end of one of his pieces—into thin air.

It was gratifying to be exposed to the music of Antonio José, both from Larry Snitzler’s excellent lecture and Dukić’s performance of José’s Sonata. Based on that, I’d place him among the best of Spanish composers. I was also impressed with the quality of Dukić’s choice of contemporary composers.

I have never been able to understand foreign artists when they speak at these concerts (except Berta Rojas) and have always thought that surtitles would alleviate the problem. (They have it at operas, why not guitar concerts?) But at least they had mikes. I was expecting an unintelligible foreign accent from Dukić but was pleasantly surprised when he spoke perfect American English! A mike would have helped. Judging from the laughter from the first six rows his humor was understood. Unfortunately I didn’t’ get it from row K.

It was an unforgettable evening.

– Bob Scharf

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

Postcard: Classical Guitarist Jason Vieaux

Postcard: Classical Guitarist Jason Vieaux
Postcard: Classical Guitarist Jason Vieaux

Review: David Russell, Classical Guitarist from Spain

Dear Friends,

Here is The Washington Post Review: David Russell, Classical Guitarist from Spain

Enjoy!