Ana Vidovic – March 11, 2022

One of the first indications we may be getting back to some sort of normal life following the COVID-19 pandemic is the re-emergence of live music. Chamber Music Kelowna is celebrating its 42nd year of presenting top quality chamber music to Okanagan audiences. The second concert of the 2021-22 season was a rescheduled performance (postponed from last season) by the Croatian guitar virtuoso Ana Vidovic.

Briefly, the sold out audience was treated to a solid and professional performance by one of the world’s top echelon classical guitarists.

Vidovic has been performing internationally since she was 11 years old and has an impressive list of top prizes in major competitions, orchestral appearances and successful recordings.

She has been a champion of adding new works to the solo guitar repertoire and frequently features works by Croatian composers in her programs.

Vidovic turned to a more traditional selection of works for her Kelowna concert on March 11, including some of the best known staples in the guitar canon.

J.S. Bach wrote an unaccompanied Partita for flute, here expertly arranged for guitar by Valter Despalj. Her rich tone and easy virtuosity were evident from the first notes, making sure the flute part had the right amount of prominence and using her excellent dynamic control and clarity of touch to capture the serenity of the sarabande and the rhythmic bounce of the Bouree Angloise.

Fernando Sor composed a large catalog of quality works and was a renowned performer in the first decades of the the 19th century. His op. 9 Variations on a theme of Mozart is one of the most frequently played of any classical guitar works and was played with the right amount of delicacy and fire.

Another virtuoso composer/performer of that era was Mauro Giuliani. The operatic flair of Rossini was ever present in her brilliant reading of his Grand Overture.

Following the intermission, we were treated to another classical guitar staple, the Sonatina by Federico Moreno Torroba. Although not a guitarist, Torroba wrote a substantial amount of quality guitar works. The Sonatina is filled with the rich harmony and Hispanic melodic charm typical of Torroba’s style. Her performance of the middle movement, in particular, had a translucent beauty and she made full use of the guitar’s tonal colour variation.

Agustin Barrios is a fascinating figure in the guitar world. He toured extensively throughout South America in the first decades of the 20th century and was the first guitarist to make a recording. One of his final works, the Limosna por el Amor de Dios (alm for the love of God) features the tremolo technique, which was strong, steady and expressive in Vidovic’s hands.

Venezuelan guitarist/composer Antonio Lauro wrote a substantial collection of Venezuelan waltzes, a captivating hybrid of European and African influences, delivered once again with an appropriate lightness and rhythmic drive.

Another work by Giuliani closed the program, the one-movement Gran Sonata Eroica. The delighted audience responded with a spontaneous standing ovation and a hope to have the opportunity to welcome this master musician back to the Okanagan in the future.

The next concert in the CMK series is the Viano String Quartet on April 29, tickets available at the Rotary Centre for the Arts box office.

Kelowna based Alan Rinehart has five decades of experience as a classical guitarist, teacher and recording artist. He co-developed the guitar performance program at the University of British Columbia.

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