FringeReview UK 2018
Hector Castro’s Guitar Recital at St Nicholas Church encompassed Renaissance in Dowland and Sanz, baroque in Bach, then Turina, Torroba, Villa-Lobos. Reis. Brouwer and that Williams’ Deer Hunter theme.
Hector Castro only gave a winning guitar recital here in July of Llobet’s music, and was returning with a diversity of Renaissance, baroque and Hispanic music.
Castro has a warm open touch, fully at home with the warm but never swimmy acoustics of St Nicholas, like many churches of this size ideal for guitar recitals.
First off was transcribed lute music: Dowland’s sprightly ‘Lady Hudson’s Puffe’, as upbeat as Dowland can bear, a marvellous piece in this acoustic.
Then Gaspard Sanz, ‘Canario’s, one of his well-known works, on the cusp of the baroque though like Britain that came late to Spain. Again, a deeply satisfying miniature, with the ancestral voice of the alter Hispanic guitar voice.
Bach’s Allemande in D transcribed and transposed from his Cello Suite No. 1 in G, BWV1007: the ping and precision o Castro’s Bach-playing and linear counterpoint is rock-solid but he allows a bloom which inevitably expands in this acoustic. It’d be good to hear a complete Bach work, and indeed a series of Dowland pieces within a programme.
Two Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) pieces followed. Turina’s famed for chamber music but wrote guitar pieces. The first characterful ‘Fandanguilo’ with its expansive vista, starts with swift runs in a slower tempo, alternating rhythms as it gradually accelerates and we’re on more familiar ground. It was followed by a homage to the farther of the modern Hispanic guitar, Francissco Tarrega (1852-1909). Turina’s a sensitive composer when it comes to timbre and impressionism. So despite his nationalist aesthetic he’s subtle and elusive, and his guitar music is some of the most attractive ways in.
Frederico Moreno-Torroba’s ‘Madronos’ is evocative and one of his better-known pieces, with its gentle flamenco rhythms and quiet joy.
Then came Villa-Lobos Prelude No. 1 one of the great pieces for guitar, as are the whole series. Villa-Lobos has a way of combining a great melody with an expansive language – evoking densities and sunk silences of the interior, as well as the city.
I don’t know Brazilian Dilermando Reis (1916-77) but his lively ‘Xodo da Baiana’ is attractive peppy and quite impressive. Born the same year as Argentinean Alberto Ginastera he’s the next generation from Villa-Lobos.
The great Cuban composer Leo Brouwer (b. 1939) has written a vast amount for guitar. His ‘Danza Altiplano’ deploy a range of techniques like knocking on the wood bole and a lively
Villa-Lobos’ more wistful Prelude No. 5 with its expansiveness preceded John Williams’ Cavatina or The Deer Hunter theme: a rapt end for a rapt recital, its saturated melody handled with warmth and an un-fuzzy clarity that doesn’t cloy.
Castro’s a rising star of the guitar world, and though guitar recitals are pretty adventurous as a rule, he’s shown more enterprise than most and brought back small gems filtered through a refined palate, both clean and linear, but resonant and with a degree of lyricism you don’t always experience at the same time. Catch him next time. He’s the real thing.