Student guitar talents offer entertaining replacement concert at St Andrew’s

St Andrew’s Lunchtime concert

Guitar students from the New Zealand School of Music
Jake Church, Emma Sandford, Joel Baldwin, Amber Madriaga, Dylan Solomon, three of whom comprised the NZSM Guitar Trio: Madriaga, Sandford and Baldwin

St Andrew’s on The Terrace
(This review was posted late because of the replacement of one of the guitarists, whose name and the title of his choice of music I had asked for, but failed to follow up. My apologies to the players.)

Wednesday 20 April, 12:15 pm

This programme was a last-minute replacement for the scheduled performance by guitarist Owen Moriarty who will now play on 11 May. These students were to have played on that day.

There was another alteration, with the first player, Royden Smith, replaced by Jake Church who played a pot-pourri of tunes from La Traviata arranged by Julian Arcas. It made an engaging start to the concert.

Emma Sanders chose what might be Albéniz’s best-known piece, Asturias. It’s a piece I used to think was one of the big collection of piano pieces entitled Iberia. But Wikipedia says it was originally the Prelude to the early set, Chants d’Espagne, and later included, after Albeniz’s death, in an unauthorised ‘complete version’ of the Suite Española by the publisher Hofmeister. There it was entitled Asturias (Leyenda = legend).

The title had always puzzled me though, as the music is clearly Andalusian in spirit and rhythm, and not from Asturias, which is on the north coast of Spain where the folk music is quite different. Like Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra, it’s one of the most popular pieces of Spanish guitar-style music. Though a bit much weight was given to big chords at the beginning of the repeated main phrase, Emma played with admirable fluency.

Joel Baldwin and Amber Madriaga both played parts of suites by Bach. Joel, the Prelude and Sarabande, from the E minor lute suite, BWV 996; Amber, the two minuets from the E major solo violin suite, BWV 1006a. Both demanded arrangements for performance on the guitar, but both players gave them most persuasive accounts, interpreting them as if conceived originally for the guitar, as if Bach himself was a master of the instrument.

An important contemporary of Bach’s, Sylvius Leopold Weiss, was one of the most famous lute players of the time and his music translates easily for the guitar. Dylan Solomon’s choice was Weiss’s Suite in F – three movements, the last of which demanded the bottom string being re-tuned down a tone to match the lute’s tuning. The Prelude, confident, the Allemande with moments of uncertainty, though I may have misinterpreted deliberate hesitations; and the final Gigue, probably not as complex a composition as say one of the gigues in Bach’s the cello suites, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Finally the New Zealand School of Music Guitar Trio (Madriaga, Sandford and Baldwin) came together to play Klaus Wüsthoff’s Concierto de Samba. Born in 1922 and evidently still alive, he is an extraordinarily versatile composer, working in a myriad of styles. Though I didn’t catch much of Baldwin’s introduction, the music presented itself buoyantly through an engaging performance.


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