[ADELAIDE EXCLUSIVE ~ AUSTRALIA/CHINA/RUSSIA]
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Fri 10 Aug.
I’m going to start at the finish, so to speak. The main feature act, but by no means the only one, was a collection of Joaquin Rodrigo pieces, collectively known as Concierto Madrigal and for much of the audience this was clearly what a symphonic version of what an Adelaide Guitar Festival gig is meant to be; the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra backing a couple of very talented classical guitar players in Beijing Guitar Duo.
Rodrigo was blind and played several classical instruments but, interestingly, not the guitar. However, several of his guitar pieces have become part of the standard repertoire of the classical world (and for relaxed music listening). Rodrigo is clearly harking back to the medieval in parts of this work, which blends that with more modern sounds. It was performed with pizzazz both by the orchestra and the duo, who take it in terms providing lead parts and backing parts. While this is quite a modern piece of music (completed in 1966 and first performed in 1967) it is of the more ‘easy listening’ part of the classical cannon; melodic and featuring standard, or what some might call, ‘old school’ tonality.
Beijing Guitar Duo played an encore and it was astounding how the very same western classical guitars used in the Spanish Rodrigo piece were instantly transformed into Chinese instruments. What a treat! If you’d like to hear yet another soundscape persona of the guitar, go and see/hear them!
Back to the opening of the Gala which began with a classical piece that, as many classical pieces do, lean heavily upon the folk traditions of Europe, a tale of love, lust and double dealing – de Falla – The Three-Cornered Hat Suite No. 1, with the lead antagonist represented by the bassoon. I’m sure the point was to remind us that the beginnings of classical music is very much the same place as modern popular and guitar music.
We then bear witness to the World Premiere of DACCORD, composed by Cathy Mililken – ASO Composer in Association – and had parts for the lone voice of Jessica Aszodi and solo guitarist Vladimir Gorbach. DACCORD is set up as a dialogue between orchestra, voice and guitar, with some quite unusual instruments featured; steel drums, and percussion created by slapping and tapping a double bass and what looked to be small tubular bells, but to mention a few. The orchestral strings supported the guitar; the winds, the voice. It also pushed into more modern musical territory, at times considerable discord. Jessica, in particular, seemed to have a lot to do and did a brilliant job of soaring, singing and vocalising through this piece. Gorbach performed solidly, though the guitar seemed to have a little less to do.
What an amazing night and a fantastic opening to Adelaide Guitar Festival 2018.