BRUCE PAINE Recital for Guitar, March 18 2001

With a quiet and unassuming stage manner Bruce set the scene for an intimate concert of well prepared and sensitive playing.

The opening set by British composer Derek Hasted gave the concert a good kick start with fresh, clean tonalities and sufficient contrast of moods to arouse the listeners'' interest.

The set of Cuban folk songs arranged by Brouwer revealed some fine control of tone colour by the performer and the careful attention to phrasing avoided the possibility of blandness in pieces that would be better served by orchestral scoring.

Koshkin''s Guitar lifted the concert a few more notches. The composer not only has a very individual and recognisable style but a fine sense of form and musical structure. Revealed also by the performance was the inherent sense a drama in the music of Koshkin.

The first half reached a suitable close and high point with the Suite del Recuerdo by Argentine composer Jose Luis Merlin. These pieces captured the traditional essence of folk song and dance of Argentina and Bruce used a great range of dynamics, clarified the varied textures and generally captured the committment of the composer to his homeland.

The second half continued with the Latin American theme with three pieces by Barrios.

The simple romantic melodies of Confesion andVillancico de Navidad were aptly expressed by Bruce. A few muffled articulations appeared in the Vals Op 8 No 4 but overall the formal shaping of the music by Bruce gave the piece a refreshing interpretation.

The concert took another welcome turn with the music of Rak. The style of the composer was inmediately apparent with Cry of the Guitar and the two Russian waltzes captured the desolation of an area hit by a large meteorite and the frenzy of the Usher story, (very interesting to compare this with the more familiar Koshkin waltz on the same Edgar Allen Poe story).

The final two items on the programme En Los Trigales by Rodrigo and Zapateado by R. Sainz de la Maza touched a familiar Spanish note and I was not expecting anything out of the ordinary. However, Bruce brought a freshness to these works with strong forward momentum and sharply defined phrasing. My only complaint is that the middle Allegro alla marcia of the Rodrigo was glossed over without due attention to the fermatas giving it a breathless quality. Thankfully Bruce maintained the tempo in the middle section of the Sainz de Ia Maza contrary to what many other performers do these days.

Overall this was a very satisfying performance with variety, subtlety and style revealing one of our best New Zealand guitarists.

David Smith