Hadelich and Sáinz Villegas Combine Serious Depth with Uninhibited Fun

17/11/2016

Falla, Rodrigo, Palomo, Dyens, Piazzolla, Sarasate, Paganini: Augustin Hadelich (violin), Pablo Sáinz Villegas (guitar), Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, 10.11.2016. (BJ)

Falla – Five songs from Siete canciones populares españolas (arr. Paul Kochanski & Jaume Torrent)
Rodrigo – Invocación y danza (Homenaje a Manuel de Falla) for guitar
Palomo – Fantasy on German Folk Songs (world premiere)
Ysaÿe – Sonata in E major for solo violin, Op.27 No.6
Dyens – Tango en skaï for guitar
Piazzolla – Histoire du tango
Sarasate – Romanza Andaluza, Op.22 (arr. Hadelich & Sáinz Villegas)
Paganini – Mosè-Fantasia on the G string (arr. Hadelich & Sáinz Villegas)

Music for violin and guitar is not a segment of repertoire with which I can claim much experience, but this Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital spotlighted it in the most delightful manner imaginable. The two young instrumentalists clearly enjoy a wonderfully spontaneous rapport, which translated itself into equally compelling communication with the audience, and the music, including a couple of the performers’ own arrangements, was brilliantly played and, with scarcely any exception, in itself rewarding and often great fun.

Just last February I had occasion to admire Augustin Hadelich for the superbly poised and noble performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra. His command of this program’s very different scale and idiom—or rather, idioms—served as dazzling evidence of his stylistic range, and the technique, as on that earlier occasion and in a number of chamber performances I have heard by him, was immaculate. Seven years older than Hadelich’s 32, Pablo Sáinz Villegas is a guitarist I had not heard before, but one that I should dearly love to hear again and often. He made his instrument speak in often startlingly vivid strains, and in everything he did there was an impeccable sense of textual fidelity allied with imagination.

The evening’s world premiere was of a folk-song fantasy by the Spanish composer Lorenzo Palomo (born 1938) which, skillfully though it was put together, I found the least rewarding piece on the program. In contrast, The irreverent Tango en skaï by the French guitarist Roland Dyens, who died last month at the age of 61, might not inappropriately be termed a gas: it lampoons conventional views of the gauchos of Argentina and Brazil with gaudy abandon, and Sáinz Villegas played it up a storm.

More serious pleasures were to be enjoyed in the Falla, Rodrigo, Ysaÿe, Sarasate, and Paganini pieces, and in Astor Piazzolla’s at once compendious, touching, and entertaining History of the Tango. But with their encore the players took us to the different world of Django Reinhardt, with an uninhibitedly exhilarating account of the celebrated Belgian-born guitarist’s J’attendrai Swing, and I doubt whether many members of the audience could have gone home in other than high spirits.

Bernard Jacobson

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