FringeReview UK 2018
Paul Richards guitar recital takes in a vast range of composers as well as a few popular classics from Barrios and Tarrega, and one popular surprize.
Paul Richards is a superb guitarist and in the acoustics of All Saints his ping-sharp playing and musicianly command was a delight that slipped by in this Hispanic gallimaufry, if one can use a chill-filtered Scottish word to describe predominantly South American music.
The one thing wrong with this recital was a lack of a concert sheet, though Richards gamely announced the titles. Though we ended with a familiar territory several composers here are unknown to this writer. Though I took down notes from the PRS handwritten list the following is about as vestigially nominal as it gets. A pity, as we’d love dot have known more. But we can be grateful for the music and Richards’ complete grasp of the idiom.
Jose Pesamulo’s warm-up ‘Eraua’ began the recital, Pesamulo’s one of several composers I can’t even find on the net, though he’s clearly part of that great early 20th century flourishing of the genre.
Born in 1949, Argentinean Jorge Cardoso’s not so unknown though there’s an earlier Spanish composer from the golden age in the early 17th century who bears his name. Again his Milonga entrances through a repeat-pattern almost minimalist use of chords stepping slowly up scale and volume until a strikingly familiar tune erupts. It’s a really attractive work followed by A Antonio Vauro’s Eatuca and Antonio Jobil’s Fezicano, bot genre piece that slipped by till we got t Ernesto Nazareth’s ‘Odeon’.
Now he’s a composer famed for large-scale works, quasi-oratorios, and still very active. It’s in tango rhythm with accents falling at the end of the melody like dancers swivelling round on Strictly, a homage to a genre paying homage to the pianist accompanying silent films, a double refraction, conscious of itself. Though played on the piano, naturally it works superbly on the guitar.
Venezuelan Antonio Lauro’s pretty well known too. His ‘Carora (Vals Venezolano)’ is a swift-moving, and fleet-footed waltz, pithy and attractive, and a welcome break rhythmically.
Jose Pesamulo’s back with Brasiliero, which tells you where he comes from in its peppy upbeat language, then Sherman’s ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ suddenly cuts through. It’s a magical pause, rhythmically, melodically and emotionally.
I don’t know Brazilian Baden Powell (1937-2000) at all but his ‘O Auro’ seemed typical of the composer’s determination to revert to mid-century acoustic traditions having started out on electric guitar.
Jose Pesamulo’s yet again apparent in four works ‘Brejenzo’, ‘O Errinzau’, the halting ‘Interogudo’ and ‘Sans de Carnivale’ – which ended on an up-beat note. It’s true there’s not a vastly differentiated palate here, but some pieces like the above stand out for their fresh takes.
And finally a couple of classics. The great Paraguayan Augustin Barrios (1883-1944), whose ‘La Catedral’ is in a different world, both visionary and infinitely distant from the blaze and bustle of places like Brazil. The cooler more temperate regions and contemplation of an iconic place of worship lends this work the crystalline poise of a Chopin Prelude (he wrote preludes too), which it most resembles. Its central section seems a meditation on last things. Then its conclusion again is a running-figured conclusion spinning years and tropes. It’s an unexpected tone poem, almost a kind of fantasy-sonata and touches seven minutes.
Spaniard Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) is almost the father of the modern guitar, famous for over 70 pieces and many transcriptions. His 1896 ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra’ is still perhaps the jewel. ‘Recuerdos’ is as you’d expect, ‘memories’. Evoking the palimpsests of histories both Muslim and Christian in a gentle rain of melancholy – with the two-finger tremolo right hand tasellating harmonically as the melody’s picked out in a clean action on the right hand. Magical and a fitting end.