Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sun Jul 20
The inaugural performance of the Adelaide Guitar Festival Orchestra is a life-affirming way in which to begin a concert. I doubt that so many acoustic guitars have appeared at one time on the Festival Theatre stage before. 80 young guitarists, comprising Brisbane’s Aurora Guitar Ensemble as well as their Adelaide counterparts, under the tutelage of Dr Paul Svoboda, present a recital comprising five works.
The show begins with Fantasie de l’Espagne which, as one would expect, has a Spanish feel. Raindrops on Bingil and Wongaling, two more Svoboda compositions, provide some enjoyable light-classical listening. The fourth selection is a well-worked arrangement of Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which requires a modicum of audience participation. The concert concludes with The Green Glens of Gweedor, where the orchestra is joined by guest soloists Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, providing a highlight for fellow performers and onlookers alike.
Stochelo Rosenberg strolls to the centre of the warmly lit stage, and is joined by the other members of his trio, Sebastien Giniaux (guitar) and Joel Locher (bass). From the moment the group starts playing, it is clear that the audience is in for something quite special. Fingers dance, the air is filled with sound, and jaws drop. The first number is a medley of two pieces, Hungaria and Minor Blues. It is a perfect introduction to the show, and to Rosenberg’s world of Gypsy jazz. At the conclusion of the piece, Rosenberg welcomes one and all, introduces the trio, and then resumes the musical journey.
The 75-minute performance borders on the staggering. While it is fairly similar in musical style throughout, the quality of musicianship allows for each player to display different skills in each of the pieces. The audience is treated to some consummate Gypsy jazz, infused with elements of blues and placed within a range of moods and timings. The spectre of Django Reinhardt’s composition and musicianship looms large over the trio, yet Rosenberg’s own efforts stand side-by-side with the works of his biggest influence. The middle section of the evening’s show provides a great example; Rosenberg’s For Sephora is placed between Reinhardt’s Heavy Artillery and Festival 48 to provide a three-song highlight for listeners.
Rosenberg’s guitar playing is the foundation and the focal point of the performance but the assured playing of Giniaux and Locher almost steals the show. Collectively, the three display not only a wonderful mastery of their instruments, but also a warmth and wit that only further endears them to those that have made the wise decision to attend.
This concert has provided one of the high points of this year’s Adelaide International Guitar Festival.
by David Robinson