HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2019 GFA (MIAMI, FL)
BY BLAIR JACKSON, Classical Guitar Magazine
Marcin Dylla‘s Wednesday night concert (June 19) was the first of three that I found to be completely transcendent and transporting. (This is not minimize any of the others; merely to suggest that for whatever reasons, these three—the other two will be revealed in Part 2 or my report—left me speechless and, in the parlance of the ’60s rock culture that is so much a part of me, blew my mind.) Now, I am the first to admit that when I see Britten’s Nocturnal looming at me from a concert program, my heart does not exactly skip with joy and anticipation. I mentioned this to Marcin the next morning when I saw him and he laughed and said, “I feel the same way! I just want it to not be boring.” Well, mission accomplished on that front! By the time he got to that piece, right after the intermission of what had already been a stupendous program, I knew I was going to be in very good hands navigating through the sometimes difficult cross-currents and dark eddies of the first half of the piece, and that by the time we finally arrived at the full beauty of the Dowland theme, we would have gone on a most-rewarding spiritual journey together. Wow! Still, it was the following piece—the even longer Theme, Variations, and Fugue on ‘Folia de España’ by Ponce—that impressed me most. It goes through so many fascinating, exciting, and virtuosic Spanish realms, yet always maintains its continuity despite the ever-shifting terrain. It was jaw-droppingly good, in my humble estimation. (Both of those pieces are featured on Dylla’s latest album—called Vintage, released by the Harris Guitar Foundation—which I bought at the merchandise table immediately after the concert.)
I would also like to mention that in the first half of the concert he brilliantly strung together two groups of three unrelated pieces to in effect create two “new” works that hung together so powerfully. The first three were Maurice Ohana’s Tiento, Falla’s Homenaje pour le Tombeau de Claude Debussy, and Milhaud’s Segoviana; the second brought together Sofia Gubaidulina’s Serenade, Elliott Carter’s Shard, and Jose M. Sanchez-Verdu’s Kitab 1. I’d love to hear all those again! A great night; I floated back to the hotel after that one, sated and smiling.