Monday, November 30, 2015

Touching Music: Guitar in Recital with the Assad Brothers

[Photo: by KQED, recital by brothers Odair and Sergio Assad in 2012, similar to what we saw November 21 at Spivey Hall, Clayton State U., Morrow, Georgia]

The Assad brothers strum and pluck the strings, also press, tickle, and slide fingers along them.  They hold their faces sometimes right up against their instruments, cradling them.  I have never been so conscious of touch in music making. 

Guitar has always been a pleasant sound on recording, but three rows back, in such a "live" room as Spivey Hall at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, I was drawn into the world of guitar sound.  The music for two varied in texture, sometimes being dialogue passed in flashes and gestures between the brothers' instruments, sometimes combined in dramatic statements or ambient scene painting, sometimes like song with accompaniment.  The first half of the concert featured composers  Granados, Albeniz, Rodrigo, familiar from symphonic works.  The second half featured shorter pieces from mostly Brazilian composers, Piazzolla the exception:  Pernambuco, Jacomino, Baden Powell, Gismonti, and Bellinati.  Introducing us to works by their countrymen, some of them friends, the Assads spoke more and laughed a lot.

For once, I left thinking more of the instruments' sonority than of any particular piece.  The mood could change, but the voice of the guitar always felt affable, hopeful, and considerate.

I may be conflating the sound with the brothers' own characteristics.  Sergio (photo: R), the older one, did most of the speaking.  Both men have soft voices and unassuming stage presence.

The audience  asked for two encores before we let the brothers go.

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