The Citizen

Grace under no pressure

RECITAL:  James Grace – James Grace, who is head of guitar studies at the College of Music at the University of Cape Town, offered varied musical fare at his Northwards recital.

PROGRAMME:  Music by Spanish and Latin-American composers

VENUE:  Northwards, Parktown

Some of the music was well-known, but most of the programme featured pieces known mainly to guitar enthusiasts.

The venue itself proved to be ideal for the intimacy of the guitar, and there was a large attentive audience present.

Grace’s technique is among the most silent I have heard – no squeaks and tweaks here.

Expression was subtly applied, and rubato, where present, was discreet.

Works by Garoto (a Brazilian) and Barrios (a Paraguayan) typified the Romantic style of composing for a guitar.

Most appealing of several items was the Mazurka Appassionata by Barrios, much in the mood of Chopin’s melancholy piano mazurkas in minor keys.

Five preludes by Villa-Lobos, Brazil’s most prolific composer, had fanciful dedications not always borne out by the music itself (Grace introduced many of the pieces on his programme).

Only the First Prelude proved to be really familiar.

The first half of the recital ended with another Villa-Lobos work, the famous Choro No.1 (which was played in Joburg years ago by Grace’s teacher, Carlos Bonell).

The second half of the recital featured Spanish works, pieces by Tarrega and Albeniz.

Tarrega’s Grand Waltz, amazingly, contains the familiar Nokia cellphone ring tones at an internal cadence!

A more important composition of his was the Recuerdos de la Alhambra, essentially a study in the technique of repeated tones.
The encore was the Cavatina from The Deerhunter

Michael Traub, 2009

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