Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Fri July 18
Yamandu Costa’s stage entrance is as casual as meeting someone for drinks at the pub. Costa acknowledged the applause, took his seat, pushed back his hair several times, vigorously scruffed his face and, in a seamless flow of hand movement, intensely erupted into his first piece with such force that the energy catapulted audience members back into their seats; the power, dominance and mastery over his instrument is one that must be seen to be believed! Costa’s dexterity is jaw-dropping; that is undeniable. But it is his profound connection with the resonance of music and joy that is utterly captivating.
Costa’s performance is unparalleled and his jovial humour, both personal and musical, is as generous and free as the innocent seduction of his music. Costa drinks every note by the Adelaide Art Orchestra and it is astonishing; he is as intimately certain of the score as their conductor Brett Kelly. Costa digests each tidal flurry of scalar passages as easily as he entices the effortless symbiotic dance with his guitar. There is no distinction between technique, heart, soul, mind, emotion, tradition, rhythm and cross rhythms, the ‘God’ energy – they are united as one. Stunning!
Pepe Romero, in stark contrast to the brilliant comet that had just exploded, was demur, restrained and dapper, and made one question the decision to place Romero second on the program. However, the moment Romero struck his first note it all became clear; Romero’s nuances and depth of tone stand on the shoulders of generations, and are the result of decades of personal dedication to his craft. His flawless execution of glissandos, trills, arpeggiated chords, singing vibrato and musical maturity filled the theatre and silenced every member of the audience. Subtle and understated, Romero demands the listener’s engagement. In the words of the Dalek, resistance is futile!
Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, featured in the movie Brassed Off, is commonly spoken of in the brass world as ‘that flugelhorn solo’. However, the composer’s original intention for this piece is for performance on the classical guitar. Romero’s touch and precision are exquisite, and the interplay between the orchestra and guitar unpretentiously ethereal. Romero completed the recital with interpretations of several classic guitar standards, including the Andalusian folk-dance Malagueña, and Tarrega’s hypnotic Recuerdos de la Alhambra.
Romero’s playful burst of percussive taps, thumps and resonate harmonics evoke personality from his guitar and, like Costa adds to an armoury of technique, yet these are mere tools for extension and expression of their artistry. There are some concerts where one gets a sense of being in the presence of great royalty – being witness to the magnificence and transcendence of these musicians was an exceptional and humbling experience.
by Jenna Bonavita