24 February 2009

Scarlatti Never Failed Me Yet

At lunchtime today, I passed a delightful hour at King’s Chapel where guitarist Michael Nicolella played a fine recital which included well-known favorites such as the Sevilla from Albéniz’s Suite española, and Nicolella’s own guitar transcription of an E Major Scarlatti sonata (K.380, for those who keep score). Also on the program were a piece written for him by Frank Wallace, Dreams on a Lullaby, and a Toccata and Fugue of the guitarist’s own writing. I listened to the latter with especial interest, as it seems to me an especial challenge to write a fugue for a fretboard instrument, and I wondered how he would approach it. In this case the Fugue serves as a contrasting middle section, does not run too long, and then there is a return to the toccata; compositionally a satisfying solution.

EDIT: To help support a deserving fellow artist, I bought one of three compact discs available for purchase (naturally, I chose the one with an Elliott Carter piece, Shard, whence the disc takes its title). I've just been listening, and Nicolella plays a very nice pun on the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” at the end of his four-movement Guitar Concerto. Pulls it off almost better than did George Martin, he does.

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