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Sergio Assad : Anido’s Portrait : Doberman Yppan

Sergio Assad

Doberman Yppan : 23 pages

Sergio Assad is, as most guitarists know, a spectacular player who has written countless pieces for our instrument. This latest 4 movement piece was commissioned by Berta Rojas and it was then awarded best Classical Contemporary Composition at the 23rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2022 in Las Vegas. Not only that, but Berta Rojas’ Album featuring this piece won the Best Classical Album at the same event. So it comes with some considerable fanfares!

Of course having seen many works from this composer I certainly knew how difficult it was going to be, and I was not surprised at all, for this is some of the most tricky music for guitar I have ever come across, not that that is a problem for Berta Rojas whose full performance of this 13 + minute composition can be found in four sections on YouTube, and a wonderful one it is.

Named after Maria Luisa Anido , one of the most well – known and respected players of the 20th Century, the piece opens with a Chacarera in D major ( with a dropped D 6th) that immediately sets off at a break- neck speed full of cross rhythms and slightly unusually voiced chords. Being a traditional Argentinean dance the Chacarera has moments where rhythm is everything, but the melodies Assad uses are very effective. He also takes her name and makes it (via the alphabet) into a 15 note melody that comes in throughout the work, in a similar manner to the way that Castelnuovo – Tedesco wrote in his Greetings Cards set. As an opening it is very fast, rhythmic and full of exciting details that you will probably not have come across before.

The second movement is a Zapateado, the Andalusian dance where Anido spent a long time .Again this is another very fast 6/8 piece, which here makes a melody of her nickname Mimita, again a six note theme that crops up throughout this piece. The finger work required here is considerable for the piece is constantly on the move in quavers at 130 dotted crotchets a minute, and it all requires very careful attention and swift thinking.

The third movement is a Barynya which is a dance from the Central Russian Upland, where Anido spent several years. A varied version of her 15 letter name is used here in this slower movement where expressive playing is the order of the day., until a middle section , headed ‘Dancing ‘ takes us into a very effective but extremely fast section once again, spending a lot of time in the higher regions of the fretboard.

The final movement is a Salsa, from Cuba, where our dedicatee spent the last years of her life. The pace s slightly slower, but as semi – quavers are in constant flow here, split into mostly two voices at rhythmic odds to one another , for a lot of the time, this last piece is certainly no easier than the others. That said it is a spectacular piece full of fabulous sounds , and in Berta Rojas’ fingers , full of effortless playing. Mere mortals might however find this a good deal harder to play, but if your technique is very good, you will almost certainly enjoy this fine composition.

Chris Dumigan

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