Sunday, June 6, 2010

'Beautiful music'

The other night we went to finals of the Joann Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition and heard three guitar concertos, one after another. The first was the concerto by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and then there was the famous Rodrigo "Concierto de Aranjuez" and then Rodrigo's "Fantasia para un Gentilhombre."

The Associated Press picked up my story, which ran today in The Buffalo News. The lede was Howard's idea! He said, "The Tsar of the Guitar got the cigar!" And we were laughing about that. The Tsar of the Guitar is the nickname of the winner, a Russian named Artyom Dervoed.

Ha, ha! I love how thanks to the Associated Press, the whole world gets a dose of my opinion, which was that my personal choice had been the Serbian guitarist, Nemanja Ostojic. But really, all the players were wonderful.

I was thinking about how well I am getting to know this music. Ah, the Castelnuovo-Tedesco, yes, I know this piece.

Just the fact that a lot of us here in Buffalo can rattle off mellifluous strings of syllables like "Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco" and "Fantasia para un Gentilhombre" says something in itself.

The same thought occurred to the guitarist Michael Andriaccio who was on the jury. He got up at the end of the night and spoke for a couple of minutes. In most parts of the world, he said, people get to hear only one guitar concerto, maybe, once every four or five years. Here we get to hear about a dozen every two years, when this competition is held. We get to know this music up close and personal.

The "Fantasia para un Gentilhombre" ("Fantasy for a gentleman") is a beauty. The way Rodrigo presents these Renaissance melodies reminds me of Respighi's "Ancient Airs and Dances." Above is a picture of Joaquin Rodrigo. He looks very gentlemanly!

Here is an atmospheric picture of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, perhaps dreaming up his guitar concerto.

I wish there were a place in Buffalo where we could go and sit outside of a fine soft evening and listen to classical guitar and sip wine (or beer, as the case may be).

A few years ago a guitarist named Antonio Chiodo used to come down from Toronto and play at the Left Bank. They had an outdoor wine bar and it was fun to listen to Antonio play standards and light classics. You felt as if you were in a movie. Once I requested "Once I Loved," a song I love by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Chiodo nodded his approval, and played it.

When I thanked him afterward he just shook his head.

"Beautiful music," he said.

And perfect for a summer night.

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