by Mike Telin
If you had to listen to your upstairs neighbor practice the guitar for hours every day, someone you wouldn’t mind living above you is Vladimir Gorbach. On Saturday, April 11 in the Herr Chapel at Plymouth Church, Gorbach treated a large audience to technically brilliant and musically dazzling performances of works by Llobet, Scarlatti, Bach, Aguado, Piazzolla and Ginastera. The concert was presented as part of the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society’s International Series.
Following a splendid performance of Miguel Llobet’s virtuosic Variaciones Sobre un Tema De Fernando Sor, Gorbach’s nimble fingers brought grace and charm to the Sonatas K. 239, K. 78, and K. 27 by Domenico Scarlatti.
The final work on the first half of the program was J.S. Bach’s Suite, BWV 997, originally written for the lute. Gorbach’s performance perfectly captured the essence of the guitar’s lighter-sounding older sibling. The opening “Preludio” was well shaped, and his phrasing of the “Fuga” was beautiful, never losing sight of the theme. Following a sublime performance of the “Sarabande,” Gorbach launched into a flawless rendition of the concluding “Gigue and Double.”
The second half kicked off with Dionisio Aguado’s Andante and Rondo No. 3. The theme of the Rondo sounds like Beethoven could have composed it, and Gorbach tossed off its many technical challenges with an ease equal to that of the great interpreters of that composer’s piano sonatas.
There are arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas for various combinations of instruments, and some fare better than others. Sergio Assad’s arrangement for solo guitar is one that truly captures the composer’s signature “Tango Nuevo” style. It’s also an arrangement that Vladimir Gorbach obviously enjoys performing. He relished every sudden mood and tempo change throughout the four-movement work. Particularly captivating was “Verano Porteño” — the sultry heat of summer filled the room — and during “Invierno Porteño” one could easily imagine candles burning on a chilly winter night. The final chord faded into silence.
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and Alberto Ginastera waited until the age of 60 to compose the Sonata Op. 47, his first composition for the guitar. It’s a piece that was well worth the wait. It skillfully marries the composer’s modern musical language with traditional South American rhythms and melodies. Gorbach brought out the lyrical qualities of the first and third movements in a smooth, silky style. The very fast Scherzo, which is full of slides and pizzicatos, sounded effortless, and the driving Finale with its shifting meters brought this excellent concert to an exhilarating conclusion.
Gorbach acknowledged the audience’s ovation with one final piece, George Yeatman’s alluring Carillion. The combination of a great musician and wonderful music in a venue perfectly suited for the classical guitar made for a memorable evening.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com April 27, 2015.
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