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  • chrisdumigan

Ana Vidovic ; Guitar Recital: CD

BACH : Partita in E Major BWV 1006a : PONCE : Sonata Romantica: TARREGA : Danza Mora; Capricho Arabe; Vals: SULEK: The Troubadours Three: WALTON: Five Bagatelles.

Ana Vidovic

NAXOS Laureate Series: 8.554563

Croatian guitarist Ana Vidovic was the winner of the first prize of the Tarrega competition in Spain in 1998 at the age of 18 was and therefore it goes without saying that of course her technique is fabulous. The Prelude to the Bach is very fast, certainly at violin tempo and very clean, and in spite of all that she actually manages to add more bass notes than other guitarists, and her Bach Partita is full of wonderful moments .

As this was (one assumes) a competition programme the presence of works such as the William Walton Bagatelles and the Bach Partita, is quite understandable. But also Vidovic's extreme tempo in all of the pieces is the kind of playing that is calculated to make everyone sit up and take notice. But more remarkable is her ability to play this way without sacrificing tone in any way at all, for such is her musicality here. The Bach is astonishingly lithe, elegant, and tasteful – and has rarely sounded this commanding on the guitar. The Walton is also brilliantly executed, though by this point in the program, we've come to expect it as normal

Ponce's Schubert pastiche, the Sonata Romantica, is one notable exception, wonderful though the actual playing is, because it sounds decidedly un-Schubertian at these speeds. For all of the wonderful phrasing and tone, the tempo of the opening movement is, in my estimation just a little too much. Even the following movement is also slightly hurried, and its lovely warm harmonies and expressive moments seem to pass us by without seeming to be there. The third is an allegretto vivo, but she really takes it at its top speed here, which I thought was just a fraction too much.

Croatian – born Stjepan Sulek (1914 – 1986) is a new name to me and this set of three pieces appears to be his only guitar work. The opening Melancholy, in spite of its titles is forceful, dramatic, and very Spanish Flamenco sounding at times. Sonnet , the middle movement starts reflectively and then changes tempo a number of times, at some moments quite fast , and then abruptly back to slow and pensive again. The Spanish language is cemented by the final Celebration, full of Rasgeados, and other flamenco -esque moments. Again, this is very nicely played even if the music lacked a little something in itself that didn’t really make me want to listen to it again.

All in all, the playing is extremely technical and top – notch throughout. The actual musicality of parts, as I have already said, is debatable and the recording itself is rather full of reverberation and not quite as clean as I would have liked, but then again the player herself is quite a guitarist, and as this is only one of her currently available 6 CDs and a DVD, I would be happy to see any more from her.

Chris Dumigan

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