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Brilliant Guitarist Charms Community Concert

[Note: Click on highlighted song titles below to hear MP3 sound samples. Additional sound clips appear on the CD page.]

Journal Standard Entertainment - Freeport, IL
by Jim French

Classical guitarists are a rare find these days, especially in an age of electronic musical wizardry, and thus it was a special treat for those at the Consistory Auditorium last night to be able to listen to a classical guitarist--one man playing one instrument for a whole evening of musical enchantment. Terrence Farrell was the classical guitarist, and for lovers of the genre such as myself, it was an evening full of the most wonderful kinds of music that can only be produced by a brilliant guitarist on a classical instrument. Farrell plays a 1954 Spanish Barbero, and his renditions of pieces from throughout the world showed how many composers have been in love with the guitar and have written music just for this universal instrument.

He was unusual for a concert artist in that he opened his program by talking to the audience and telling us about the Italian origins of the instrument. Before playing a song, Farrell, who has toured much of the world for the State Department, would explain the history of a song, and the composer or the region that produced it.

He kept to some of the usual expectations of classical guitar fans, but he also gave us several pieces not expected from a classical guitarist.

For example, after a long-winded tale about how much Franz Schubert enjoyed the poems of Alfred Tennyson, he said that Shubert had written a song about the "Lady of the Lake" that went nowhere. Later Schubert changed the name of the song, and it became the famous "Ave Maria." Farrell then played as moving a rendition of the song as I have heard, keeping a constant arpeggio going with two fingers while getting the guitar strings to sing the melody with the others--an extremely difficult technique that I have heard only once before in my life, at a concert of the late renowned flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya.

Farrell's other highlights in the first half of the program included a medley of George Gershwin songs, including parts of "Rhapsody in Blue" and selections from "Porgy and Bess." He explained that Gershwin music was always in big demand in overseas tours. There was a dance song by Johann Sebastian Bach, a long story about Mrs. Bach, and a traditional "Bullfight Flamenco," and another surprise, a song for guitar by Antonio Vivaldi which was part of a concerto for guitar.

After intermission the personable Farrell moved to Latin America, and to Rio de Janeiro, (my birthplace) and Hector VillaLobos and the rest of the Brazilian composers, all of whom loved the guitar. He played four Latin American dances, including the funny "Tico-Tico no Fuba" a song popularized by that fruit hat lady, Carmen Miranda.

After a short talk about love and regret, Farrell played the very poignant "Cavatina," in a heart rending exposure of soul on strings. It is hard to say whether I enjoyed "Cavatina" most of all on the evening, or the number after it, "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams. Three classical and traditional songs finished the program, "Jota Aragonesa," "Romanza," and "Zambra Gitana," (arranged by Farrell). The audience would not let the guitarist leave without an encore, and he returned for the one "de riguer" song of all classical guitarists, "Malaguena," and did not fail to give it all the flourish it can enjoy.

This concert had the audience enthralled throughout with the rich textures and subtle vibrancy of classical guitar music, and it was obvious that Terrence Farrell enjoyed playing for us. In style he was superb, and in passion there were times when I could almost see the gypsy dancers he was playing for. He and his wife Sandy were able to greet members of the audience in the lobby after the show, providing a nicely warming touch from a man whose guitar music had already touched us all.

This was the third of this year's community concert series, with the fourth concert to follow in April.

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