The Beatles have long been “classic.” But the opening concert of the Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society’s 2016-17 season, which featured Croatian guitarist Ana Vidovic, made them “classical.”
Sir Paul McCartney shared the bill with J.S. Bach in an outstanding recital at the Kimbell Art Museum’s Piano Pavilion that also trotted out works by a couple of Spanish greats and Bach contemporary Domenico Scarlatti.
The performance opened with Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, lovingly transcribed by Croatian cellist Valter Despalj. Vidovic, who has been presented by the society twice before, musically floated, danced and mused as she glided through the six-movement suite. Perhaps most impressive was how well she articulated the myriad voices Bach wrote into this work for a single instrument.
This Baroque era work was followed by a piece from the early 19th century: the charming Grande Ouverture by Italian composer Mauro Giuliani. The highly diverse work was almost operatic in its aspirations and was wonderfully showy. It is the sort of work that seems to want to break free from its player and misbehave. But Vidovic would have none of that, keeping a tight rein on the piece without ever stifling it.
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Next Vidovic returned to the 18th century for a pair of sonatas by another Italian composer, Scarlatti. His harpsichord sonatas (he wrote more than 500 of them) are common fodder for classical guitar programs, and with good cause. The pieces are often captivating and they make the move from keyboard to guitar with ease. Vidovic further proved that point, especially in the E major sonata, which was the more commonly heard of the two she played.
The first half closed with a haunting and technically flawless reading of Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra) by Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega. This affecting piece is one of the most beloved in the classical guitar repertoire. But it never wears out its welcome, especially when played as well as Vidovic did.
The concert’s second half turned a bit more introspective with a pair of works by Paraguayan composer Agustin Barrios Mangore, La Catedral and Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios. Both pieces were excellent showcases for highlighting Vidovic’s skills.
The concert closed with a familiar Sonatina by Spanish composer Federico Moreno Torroba, which displayed a jovial personality.
And, in between, we got the Beatles — or more exactly, McCartney.
Vidovic delivered a lovely reading of Macca’s legendary ballad Yesterday. A lot of the credit for the success of that work has to go to Toru Takemitsu, who arranged it for classical guitar (the program listed him as the composer, rather than the arranger, but I think most folks figured out who really deserved the credit for what).
So it was a fine start to a new season for this company. And it was a rich pleasure to hear Vidovic again. Even with the incredibly high standards maintained by the society, Vidovic continues to stand out as one of the finest players it presents.