I have already mentioned Ana Vidovic a few times and I did a post on her and Quebec guitarist Jérôme Ducharme a while back. Speaking of Jérôme Ducharme, we had him play a concert for us Friday night and it was a great experience. He played the Villa-Lobos preludes superlatively in every way. He also played a spectacular piece by Quebec composer Maxime McKinley called "Mandala". Virtuoso, but ending with a lovely long passage in harmonics. Good piece, very well played. The pinnacle of the evening was the Twenty Variations and Fugue on "Folias de España" by Manuel Ponce. Again, a terrific performance of one of the most challenging pieces in the repertoire. The encore was a masterful "Recuerdos de la Alhambra".
But I'm supposed to be talking about Roland Dyens. I first heard about him when his piece "Tango en skaï" was published quite a few years ago. Here he is playing it:
"Skaï" is a French slang term for imitation leather, so the title indicates a gaudy, humorous take on the tango. Here he is playing the "Fuoco" movement from his Libra Sonatine:
I think I am supposed to be discussing Roland Dyens as a guitarist, not a composer, so let's hear him playing something by someone else. Here is a Chopin waltz, op 69, no 2:
Regarding his playing, he has something a lot of classical guitarists are weak on: a strong rhythmic sense. He has a groove! But while he is precise in that area, he is sloppy in a lot of other areas. He doesn't seem to have much sense of tone color. He makes some nasty sounds at times and doesn't seem to go for any shading of color. He also doesn't have much sense of shaping a phrase. He plays to his strengths, surely, but it is hard to call him a well-rounded classical guitarist. He really seems more to play with a jazz sensibility. And after listening to his Chopin, I am strongly tempted to call him the world's best restaurant guitarist.
What about his compositions? I don't hear much there apart from flashy guitar virtuosity, which palls for me pretty quickly.
On to Ana Vidovic. Here she is playing the "Alla Cubana" from William Walton's "Five Bagatelles":
Now that is fine classical guitar playing: clean, precise, lovely tone, beautifully phrased, nice dynamics. Everything that Roland Dyens ignores. Here is another movement from the Walton:
And finally, here is the Presto from the first Violin Sonata by Bach, which is at least as difficult as it sounds:
Ana Vidovic is a very fine player with loads of technique. Sometimes she misreads an accidental--I've noticed a couple in Moreno Torroba--but she is a young player and has room to grow as an artist. Well worth listening to now and in the future.