The NCH concert is the highlight of the annual Waltons Guitar Festival of Ireland where the hoisting of Rodrigo´s Concierto de Aranjuez like a proud sail on a Spanish galleon has already become a mini-tradition.
The Concierto is, after all, an iconic symbol for classical guitar fans.
The concert juxtaposed the intense concentration of outstanding Irish guitarist John Feeley against the casual grace of Paraguayan maestro Berta Rojas in a programme that included four of the finest guitar concertos ever written.
Rojas is renowned for the elegance of her playing - her hand glides effortlessly over the fretboard as if brushing a piece of silk. Her Aranjuez was an enrapturing experience (and not just its adagio) that was complemented by the firm yet sensitive playing of the RTENSO under Robert Houlihan.
Rojas also played Leo Brouwer´s Concerto Elegiaco, a Cuban masterpiece, even though it premiered as recently as 1986.A mild mannered classical-form work, it also contains spasmodic drama of the type for which Brouwer, an adventurous composer and one-time minimalist, is noted. Again, deliciously played.
Feeley seemed a bit uneasy on the opening number, Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, but delivered the beauty of this Rodrigo tribute to Segovia with the quietness and gentleness it demands.
However, it was the Concerto in A by the late-18th-century Italian composer Mauro Giuliani that ignited the audience´s imagination. Feeley captured the sense of excitement of what, at times, seemed like a modern work, while never losing the historic feel of the piece. Overall, a compellingly beautiful concert.