Friday, February 06, 2009

The Southwest Guitar Festival, Day Two

I managed to miss the 4:00 PM concert by Isaac Bustos yesterday, because I was too busy because I needed a nap after my rigorous morning/afternoon practice regimen (Hey, give me a break: I'm 51 years old!). Sorry about that.

In any event, I did manage to get to the 7:30 PM concert by Denis Azabagic, a Bosnian born guitarist, and it was fantastic. He changed up his program a bit, but the after-intermission part had some wonderful "alive guy music," which pleased me greatly.

First half Mr. Azabagic played the Villa-Lobos 5 Preludes, The Torroba Sonatina, and Sor's Mozart Variations. This is all high quality music - and his articulation, execution, and interpretation was superb - but I've heard this old stuff so much over the years that it's really not possible for me to "get into it" with these pieces anymore. That's one of my main gripes with the whole legit classical guitar scene, right there: The standard rep has been played to death, and I mean double-indemnity-dead death. But then, I'm the guy who is in favor of a quarter-century moratorium on new performances and recordings of the Bach Lute Suites because I just can't stand to listen to those damned things anymore (I do play three of those pieces, in the interest of full disclosure: Bourree in E Minor, Gavotte II in A minor (Gavotte I sucks), and the Sarabande in A minor).

For the second part of the program, Mr. Azabagic played his own arrangement of the Bach Flute Partita BMW BWV 1013. He did an outstanding job with the arrangement, and I wasn't overly familiar with the music, so I enjoyed that. Hey, I love Bach - he's my second favorite composer behind Beethoven - but Bach has become the victim of his own popularity. At least it wasn't a goddamned Lute Suite! He had a hilarious story to go along with the suite that involved a broken thumb, but there's no way I could do it justice, you had to be there. Azabagic is excellent with an audience and "manages" them brilliantly. It is impossible not to know when to applaud, for example, even when there is a pause between pieces, just because of his manner. This is one of the marks of a seasoned and brilliant performer.

Then came all of the choicest moments for me, as the last two selections were alive guy music! Excellent alive guy music, as well. Collectici Intim (Intimate Collection in Catalan, just about obviously) by Vicente Asencio is a five movement suite kind of thing, and it has the Spanish Catalan flavor totally and completely down without sounding cliche at all. Quite fresh and interesting, and with lots of showy sections for the guitarist to display his virtuosity. This is high praise from me, as I'm not much into the Spanish thing at all. In any event, this music is a great addition to the guitar's repertoire, which, as I harp on too much, I suppose, is mostly populated by old war horses who have seen way too many battles.

He saved the best for last with Cafe Pieces by Vojislav Ivanovic, which was just killer. I'm trying to remember the last time I described new guitar music as "killer," and it would have to be when I first heard my friend Mark Cruz' Fuego Y Lluvia. I'd play that, as a matter of fact, but it has a peculiar scordatura that just doesn't fit into my set anywhere... but, I digress.

If I didn't know Ivanovic's nationality, Id be hard pressed to tell from the music. It has an organic plasticity to it that suggests that it is just a 100% natural result of his life musical experiences, which is as it should be, IMO (That's what I "go for," as a matter of fact). There was plenty of technical brilliance, but it was always musical, and not just a display of technique for the sake of technique. As my lame attempts make obvious, it it indescribable music, but indescribably delicious.

Evidently, there are eight pieces in this set, and Mr. Azabagic played Nos. 2 and 3 in the set proper, and then No. 1 as an encore. That encore piece was an idiomatic guitar tremolo kind of thing - think Leyenda - but the take on it was so fresh that it easily transcended any stereotypes.

I was disappointed that the Cafe Pieces were not on either of the two CD's for sale after the show, but I bought one anyway (And, I almost NEVER buy classical guitar music anymore). So yes, I really liked this particular concert.

Oh, everything was played from memory, which is how it ought to be done, and I was amazed that Denis could close his eyes and get into it during some really, really technical sections. Excellent.

BTW: I talked with Dr. Dunne briefly at an after-concert party last night, and the sound system he played through the previous night wasn't his, and he wasn't happy with the sound either. That got me to thinking on the drive home, I'd like to get him over with his condenser mic setup and try it through one of my systems. It may need something like a tube mic preamp, but it would be interesting to see if I could get a really, really excellent amplified sound for an acoustic classical guitar now. Plus, it would be loads of fun.

Welp, I have to practice before the 4:00 PM downtown guitar ensemble concerts, and tonight is LAGQ! The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is really the only thing in the legit classical guitar world that I've always found fresh and interesting, and I first encountered Scott Tennant at a Pepe Romero masterclass in Houston in 1980! Pepe called him, "super keed" back then (You have to get Pepe's Spanish accent in there for the full effect). LOL!


Anonymous Worship Leader said...

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5:58 AM  

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