Concert Teyata Guitar Duo
The Sunday of the Twente Guitar Festival has a big advantage over the other days: You don’t have to set the alarm clock early!
At the beginning of the afternoon the concert of the Teyata Guitar Duo was planned, an ensemble of two young Belgian guitarists, Jan Sanen (who participated in the competition here a few years ago) and An Volders. They played a recital with own compositions in the Minimal Music genre.
Quite a few years ago, I got acquainted with the term minimal music. With Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, both originating from Germany, it was called Minimalmusik. I did buy some records, like Timewind and Moondawn by Schulze and Phaedra and Ricochet by Tangerine Dream. Characteristics of their music were extensively repeated patterns that enabled the melody to develop a slow but subtle movement. All played on Moogs, Mellotrons, VCS synths and all kinds of electronic gear.
I had never listened to classical minimal music like the compositions by Philip Glass. Last year, however, I did get acquainted with the melodic minimal music by Ludovico Einaudi, this music was excellent to lie down on the couch after a busy working day and let thoughts wander in a relaxed and creative way.
In particular the first pieces by the Teyata Guitar Duo seamlessly connected to my Einaudi impressions. A subtle question and answer game in repeated rhythmic patterns. The first piece they played invoked with me the image of a pond, with little ducks that dived and caused interfering circles on the surface, forming a complex wave pattern. And thus I had a bit more of these dreamy and relaxing experiences.
😉 I should have had a chaise longue with this concert!
An interesting concert that triggered my imagination!
Finals Competition Professionals
Traditionally the Sunday afternoon is the time for the final battle of the professional’s competition. That it was a battle rather than just the finals, that was clearly readable on the banner that was attached to the stage: Kaj’s Guitar Store Guitar Contest!
The first finalist that hit the stage with a polished knife, no I mean a well-tuned guitar, was Fabian Freesen. He announced that he would play first a Fantasia in multiple movements by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767), his conclusion would be Capriccio Diabolico by Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco.
The Fantasia appeared to have four movements. The first one was a stately introduction, Freesen played its clearly sad melody with a nice tone. Then he changed moods with an elegant arpeggio movement that got something jubilant by a well-balanced dynamic approach. The third movement offered the listener some rest with a sonorous slow melody that provided a perfect introduction to a triumphant finale. Well played, I was almost tempted to applaude on the last note. Of course, I held back, because he had not finished yet.,
The Capriccio Diabolico was Tedesco’s homage to Paganini who had the nickname Il Diavolo because of his diabolically fast runs on the violin. Tedesco had made every effort to integrate some of the elements of this speed in his composition. Freesen had a well-founded approach in the fast passages, played lyrical melodies in the slow sections and found a good balance in the dynamics. The runs were diabolical indeed and as the saying says, the sting was in the tail (the last section of the piece) indeed. Well done, Fabian Freesen!
The second candidate was Andreia Lazarevic. Because he had to wait a while for a piano-stool, it was dead silent in the hall. Just then the noise of the airco became obvious to me. Fortunately, it was not that bad as on the first CD of the Assad Brothers!
I had heard Andreia Lazarevic playing in Nordhorn already. That was no reason for him to repeat his then repertoire here in Enschede, he supplemented the already familiar Fantasia Op. 9 by Luigi Legnani with works from another famous Italian, the two last movements of the Grande Sonate by Paganini.
Legnani, well, that’s Opera! Lazarevic performed the drama in the composition with all effects available and made good uses of the sudden rests to increase the tension. I found his performance even better than in Nordhorn. What a few weeks of study can achieve!
He played the Romance from the Grande Sonate as it should be: Con Amore! After this slow movement it always exciting to see how a player copes with the change in the last movement, the Andantino Variato. In this movement Paganini shows that he is not only a virtuoso and skilled violinist, he was an excellent guitarist too! Lazarevic played the theme in an elegant and triumphant tempo and showed agility and subtlety in the faster variations and the scales. Nice performance!
The third player was Jacob Bangsø, this year’s winner of the competition in Nordhorn. He announced a crowded programme, Sonata K233 by Domenico Scarlatti, Fandango from Tres Piezas by Joaquin Rodrigo and finally the famous Sonata Op. 47 by Alberto Ginastera.
The Sonata K233, also known as Aria, was a nice warming-up piece, it sounded well, was well-phrased and had tasteful ornamentation and an original variation. In the Fandango, Bangsø stood out with a fresh approach and some calculated risks in the runs. Well, in the descent of the Tourmalet in the Tour the France cyclists at times almost touch the abyss in search of seconds.
The main adventure, however, would be Sonata Op. 47. The Escordio was powerful and full of contrast, with the Scherzo, Bangsö added some more, wide dynamics with convincing effects and the speed with the familiar calculated risk. In the Canto, he took some breathing space and played a pleasant quiet intermezzo that was cut off roughly by the acid end. The Finale became a fiery conclusion with at times an original interpretation. Even more than in Nordhorn, he balanced on the edge and turned the piece into a remarkable adventure. I guess that this is what contemporary music needs to keep the attention of an audience that is not per se a fan of music from this era.
Candidate number four was quite unknown to me, Lying Zhu from China. She had a very original solution for the announcement, she had it made. Tarantos by Leo Brouwer, Sarabande and Gigue by Johann Sebastian Bach and finally the Rondo Concertante by Napoleon Coste.
Tarantos, that reminds me of Tarantella. This avant-garde composition by Brouwer contained a lot of spider’s venom indeed in the technique and the sound. As a composition and as music I did not like the piece, even though Zhu added some expression here and there.
In a slow movement like the Sarabande by Bach it is extremely important to keep and maintain the flow and the pulse. In my opinion, Zhu played it too flat and too fragmented. The notes race track of the Gigue could not take away this feeling, I missed the swing that adorns a joyful dance like a Gigue, even with Bach! Plain speed in not sufficient for a pleasant listener’s experience!
Napoleon Coste is a specialist in lengthy introductions, so it took quite a while before the first refrain of the Rondo was up. Once there, Zhu played on in a joyful tempo and did not fail to introduce some virtuosity. With regards to her performance she recovered from the almost failed Bach adventure. Yet I did not have a click with her play. I missed some musical subtlety and suppleness. True, her technique was spectacular. But I am not sitting here to gape at technique. I just missed that intangible spark that makes the music.
Tuur Severs concluded the finals with two pieces, the Mozart Variations by Fernando Sor and Evocacion y Danza by Joaquin Rodrigo.
He started the introduction towards Das klinget so Herrlich nice and softly. The tender sound of this piece was quite contrasting with the brute force of for instance the Ginastera Sonata. Sever’s sound was quite suitable for this nineteenth century music, clear and not over-dramatic, with a nice smooth finish of the scales.
Evocacion y Danza by Rodrigo is piece that demands risks from the player in order to let it flourish. Tuur Severs decided to remain at the safe side. That was a shame indeed, because with the performance of Bangsø we had heard how a piece brightens up if it is played with a certain va banque mentality. On the run, however, the player showed growth, the tremolo passages in the end were powerful and secure.
It was really bad luck that precisely during his performance a rock band started to play full power outside on the Oude Markt. It was a positive thing that Tuur Severs did not allow himself to be distracted by this sound-violence.
The finals were over. I had my favourites, but we would have to wait until the evening before we knew what the jury liked about it.
Concert Ricardo Gallen
The Spanish guitarist Ricardo Gallén signed for the last concert of the Twente Guitar Festival 2014. It was a brief concert this time, it would last about an hour. With an entry fee of twenty euros you achieve a nice hourly rate indeed!
At first, we had the results of Kaj’s Guitar Store Guitar Contest! 1. Lying Zhu, 2. Jacob Bangsø and 3. Fabian Freesen. The remaining candidates were not invited to the show on stage, so we did not find out their placement either. I found it a weird policy, we never had it this way. New Objectivity, I presume?
For a change, I did not agree with the jury at all. In my opinion Lying Zhu’s play missed a soul, it was technically excellent, but I missed the contact with the essence of music, the power to move one’s heart.
Personally, I had given Jacob Bangsø the first prize for his adventurous and exciting Ginastera Sonata, I had awarded Freesen and Lazarevic a shared second prize because they both in their own way played with their technique in service of the music, and only then Mrs Zhu had appeared on my list. 😉 Yes, this is just the opinion of a music lover with a good will, so… It was strange, but in some way this result spoiled my evening.
OK, back to the music. I had read about Ricardo Callén, but I had never heard him play.
The first thing that struck me when he sat down was his playing posture. He played like the Flamenco guitarists do. Quite a performance to keep that posture up for a full hour!
He started with music by his fellow-countryman Federico Moreno Torroba (1891 – 1982), to be specific the Sonatina with the movements Allegretto, Andante and Allegro. With this piece, it was quite clear that a Sonatina is not an easy Sonata. I guess that was Segovia’s mistake when he refused to play Tedesco’s Sonatina because he thought it would be a piece for dilettantes. Callén played the piece with a warm interpretation.
Second part of the programme was some romanticism by Miguel Llobet, Mazurka and Clavelitos. Mazurka became a pleasant laid-back piece with lots of virtuosity under the hood. To my surprise I recognized the theme of Clavelitos, I once played it in an arrangement by John Zaradin. Llobet’s version was way more difficult!
Ricardo Callén put his Torres model guitar aside and picked up a beautiful nineteenth century build to play music by Fernando Sor, the Grande Sonate Op. 22. Many consider this Sonate to be his best work. Sor dedicated the Sonate to the Spanish politician Manuel Godoy who was a bit too diligent with reforms against the opinion of the Spanish establishment and clergy. Callén made a nice performance of the sound and song of Sor’s music.
The next item from the programme was a curiosity, Ricardo Callén continued with Prelude, Fuga and Allegro BWV998, but he played it on the same nineteenth century build guitar. I have seen Raphaella Smits play this way too, and it keeps surprising me how well Baroque music sounds on guitars like this! The Fugue developed into a really spectacular Allegro.
Then the cake was eaten, the hour was over. Enthusiast applause from the audience tempted Ricardo Callén to play one encore: Le Coucou by Louis Claude Daquin (1694-1772). This cuckoo flew away, ending the Twente Guitar Festival 2014.