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Sergio Assad : Lauro’s Portrait : Doberman – Yppan

Sergio Assad

Doberman – Yppan: 23 pages

The dedication in the title of Sergio Assad’s piece here is the legendary Venezuelan composer/ performer Antonio Lauro (1917 – 1986) and here he is remembered in a suite of four movements, all of which are in musical styles he would have recognized.

Of course, coming from a writer’s pen like Sergio Assad, you know that firstly it will be a great piece of music , but also very difficult , as indeed it is. The opening Preludio is a slow, relaxed 72 crotchets a minute , until you realise that the entire piece is firstly made up of semi – quavers , and secondly the time signatures change multiple times from 7/16, to 2/4, to 9/16, to 6/16 to 12/16 over just 68 bars of music, and the finger work itself takes you endlessly around all manner of areas on the fingerboard , in arpeggios , but very few of them ones that you will be used to fingering, and therefore it is a real task to get it to flow effortlessly for quite a while.

Bambuco is the second movement and one that you can find David Russell performing on YouTube, who also provided the fingering for the entire suite. Again at 116 dotted crotchets a minute and written in quavers for the greatest part you realise that this really moves quickly. It is set largely in two voices (sometimes three) but with frequent chords also .It has a tremendous forward thrust and leaps all over the guitar proving itself to be a lovely piece of writing but also quite a handful to negotiate.

The third movement is, inevitably, a Vals, the style of piece that Antonio Lauro is most associated with, and like all Venezuelan Waltzes, is very fast and constantly on the move. The use of multiple chromatic signs in almost every bar (which is also the case with the rest of the movements) is an example of just how many momentary keys the piece moves in and out of.

The final movement is a Danza Nativa at the ever faster speed of 212 crotchets a minute, set in a largely two voiced idea, where the off – beat rhythms are constantly on the move and after a number of sections involving plenty of strumming and percussive effects, the piece finishes on a coda destined to have the audience on their feet.

Yes it is a wonderful piece of writing from an award – winning composer, but you really do have to be a seriously good player to even think of getting your hands around this extended suite, but it is definitely worth it, if you have the necessary technique.

Chris Dumigan

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