by Mike Telin
When the talented Petra Poláčková made her debut at the Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival in 2014 she enthralled listeners with a program of Romantic music by Austro-Hungarian guitarist and composer Johann Kasper Mertz. On Saturday afternoon, June 4 in Mixon Hall, the young Czech guitarist returned to the Festival with an equally engaging recital that centered around the music of German composer and lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss. As in 2014, Poláčková’s playing was so technically secure and musically insightful, it was unimaginable that anything she played could possibly be difficult.
Like the lute suites of J.S. Bach — whom he supposedly competed against during improvisation contests — Weiss’s suites are well crafted and provide for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. Poláčková’s decision to perform the works on a 9-string Romantic guitar allowed for the music’s rich harmonic structure to be heard. The low register was especially full bodied.
After Weiss’s enchanting Tombeau Sur La Mort De M. Comte De Logy, which began the program, Poláčková segued into the composer’s “Passagaille” (from Suite XIV), which received an introspective and highly nuanced performance.
The young guitarist’s interpretation of the six movement Suite XXV “l’Infidèle,” was a delight to hear. Poláčková played the dotted rhythms during the opening “Entrée” with flair. The long lines of the “Courante” flowed beautifully, and the “Sarabande” was full of stately grace. Following her colorful account of the “Minuet,” she brought spirit to the driving “Musette.” Her elegant playing of the long melodic sequences during the “Paysane,” brought the work to a satisfying conclusion.
Poláčková took a stylistic break in the middle of her program, offering up two twentieth-century works played on modern guitar. French composer Maurice Ohana’s wildly episodic Tiento gave way to a charming delivery of Manuel de Falla’s Homenaje “Le Tombeau de Debussy.”
Returning to the music of Weiss and the 9-string guitar, Poláčková performed the four movements from the Suite II with precise technical and musical craftsmanship. The “Prelude” was wonderfully shaped, while the triple-metered “Courante” danced with glee. Her rendition of the “Sarabande” had an air of sophistication, and the spritely “Giga” simply made you smile.
The large and appreciative audience demanded an encore and Petra Poláčková humbly obliged with a short melodic work by Johann Kasper Mertz.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com June 24, 2016.
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