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Unusual Recital Refreshes

by Clive Simpson
South China Morning Post, Arts Section
- Hong Kong

Terrence Farrell Guitar recital City Hall Theatre May 30

Although the repertoire for the classical guitar has grown considerably over the past half century, there is still a certain predictability about most guitar recitals, with the same works appearing with relentless regularity

Terrence Farrell, an American guitarist who has been on the concert scene for a decade, brought us a welcome share of unusual works which was quite refreshing.

So too was his relaxed manner and informal introductions to the music, spiced with a few amusing anecdotes, which the predominantly young Chinese audience seemed to appreciate.

Aptly, he began the evening with pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Manuel Ponce; two important writers for the instrument from the earlier part of our own century. They were both inspired by the celebrated Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia (who is today in his 90s) who has had such an influence upon performers and composers alike.

From the five Villa-Lobos Preludes of 1940, we were given the first and last, in reverse order. The artist presented a delightful account of the fifth but in the first he failed to penetrate deeply enough the darker, brooding moods of the music.

Ponce, the Mexican composer whose birth centenary we celebrate this year, was represented by a balletto and giga in the baroque style. The elegance of the first suggested the quiet-voiced lute while the lively jig brought us a jigsaw of articulated sounds.

Fernando Sor's Variations on a Theme from Mozart's Magic Flute is a familiar favourite at guitar recitals. On Friday night, the artist came, he Sor, but he didn't quite conquer the piece.

The opening theme could have been stated with rather more authority while the first few variations didn't quite have the crispy fluent fingering of the rest.

The final part of the first half was French, with three charming little waltzes from a contemporary named Pierre Lerich and Francaise by Jacques Ibert, a characterful vignette which was played deliciously.

The three South American dances by the American composer Guy Horn (Farrell's teacher), which opened the second half, were colourful, quicksilver pieces and like the Rock'n'Roll Rhapsody of compatriot Stephen Tosh were written for and dedicated to the performer.

The audience clearly enjoyed the arrangement by Jorge Morel of three pieces from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story and the Habanera from Bizet's Carmen.

However it was really the Spanish flavour of The Bells of Alba by Eduardo Sainz de la Maza and the artist's own arrangement of the Spanish traditional Zambra-Mora which provided the exotic touches that really excited the: audience. It was something that had been eagerly awaited and was warmly appreciated.

Terrence Farrell is a persuasive artist, with subtle and sensitive approach and his instrument spoke eloquently throughout the evening. Musically there was nothing very substantial in the programme but it was exceedingly well performed and nicely strung together.

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