A Brief Review of Athens Guitar Duos Concert in Guangzhou, China
by Keen Kwok (Vice Secretary General of Guitar Society of Guangdong Province)
It was an afternoon in late autumn of Guangzhou, but the city was still hot and dry under the October sunlight. The splendid performance of Mr Dusty Woodruff and Mr Matthew Anderson really moisten the heart of guitar fans from Guangzhou and around cities. The two American guitarists held a unique matinee in Oct 26,2013, as the last stop of Athens guitar duo Magellans tour in China. As per my experiences of enjoying classic music concerts, it is the first time that the classical guitar matinee entering in Guangzhou
For building up a marvelous and given heart repertoire list, the programme mainly takes the modern and present composers’ and arrangers’ works. Except a couple of classic works composed by Astor Piazzolla and Manuel de Falla, the other musical works are rarely played on the guitar stage in China. The repertoire covers a wide range of musical element includes Spain, Gypsy, Greek, Latin, North America and China. Among them, Princess of Lykia by Fazil Say and Chinese traditional music Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon arranged by Cody Brookshire, are more expected by the audience.
Without any doubt, they won over Guangzhou guitar fans with their perfect performance, and impressed the audience deeply, passionately, masterly and meticulously. No matter the articulation, pacing and rhythm control, or their overall cooperation and dominant ability, has fully reflected their remarkable playing skill and high attainment . Even if some intricate pieces in several movements switch style frequently, such as Tango Suite, Greek Suite and Comme des Grands, they all can cope with recite-playing freely and present a full-range musical expression for the audience.
Take the Princess of Lykia as an example, facing the improvisational musical motives in the introduction, the two guitarists played stably and elegantly. Having or characterized by a pop music style melodic line and harmonic development, they played alternately on two parts, and bring the audience to an old story. When the music progress into the theme,, they suddenly shifted to a slightly exaggerating and sharp contrast performance style, and take massive playing tap,slap and rasgueado etc skills to create special sound effect, and repeatedly jumping and push gradually. Compared with other works for 6-string guitar duo, the 11-string guitar handled by Mr Matthew Anderson adds brilliance to this music piece, which not only widen the bass range but also makes the music obtain wider dynamic and rich sense of layers. I once luckily watched the live video of The Princess of Lykia played by 2 Asian guitarists, and I think the Athens guitar duo version is much more better.
Another highlight piece of the concert is Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon by Chinese composer Mr Ren Guang, and the Athens guitar duo world premier version is arranged by Cody Brookshire. For Chinese audience, Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon is a well-known music work with typical Guangdong folk music style, characterized by concise, refining, softly and leisurely musical syntax. In such a traditional piece, Cody Brookshire applied modern harmony fantastically. He combines the melody of Chinese traditional folk music together with the harmony of western music through the skills of massive modulation, transposition, sequence and variation etc. While the two guitarists accordingly uses overtone, vibrato, drum playing etc playing skills to make the transformation treatment of volume and timbre meticulous and colorful. They perfectly perform the intro, developing, changing and concluding; light, heavy, relaxing and urgent which are stressed in Chinese folk music, and bring the house down.
The integration and impact of different music style and element run through the whole concert and ends with Andrew Yorks Evening Dance. Athens guitar duo weave a nice “afternoon guitar music fantasy” for Guangzhou guitar fans. Though the two guitarists have different performing style—Mr Dusty Woodruff is partial to dynamic and passionate; Mr Matthew Anderson is partial to calm and rational, while just because of their mutually complementary makes them sparkling and shining on the guitar music stage.
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