Dallas — For those of you who are not familiar with the Allegro Guitar Society, you are missing out on one of the musical treasures of the Metroplex. Its concert season features the top guitarists in the world. Such was the case when they presented the Croatian virtuoso Ana Vidovic last week. The first concert was at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and the performance reviewed was at the Montgomery Arts Theater at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas.
She was born in 1980 in Karlovac, Croatia and started the guitar when she was only 5 years old. By the time she was 8, she was performing in public and at 11, she was touring internationally. Vidovic took top honors in a series of guitar competitions and has eight highly praised CD recordings on the market.
The classical guitar is an intimate instrument that is cradled in the arms of the player. Unlike its electric relatives, the classical guitar is soft-spoken. Vidovic’s performance was amplified, which is a topic of discussion among the performers, but it allowed the audience to hear everything—even the softest notes.
Vidovic’s program was divided into halves. The first half was a series of works for other interments arranged for guitar, such as Bach’s first cello suite. The second half consisted of works written for the guitar by composers who are unfamiliar to non-guitarists.
One selection, “Yesterday,” credited to Toru Takemitsu in the program turned out to be the familiar Beatles song in a lovely transcription.
In all of the pieces on the program Vidovic took a relaxed approach. Technically, she was brilliant, playing the most difficult passages with no apparent effort. While she played expressively, there was little physical involvement in her performance. There wasn’t much difference in her approach between Bach and the modern composers on the program.
This is not meant to champion excessive showmanship, such as we see in many concert artists today. But Vidovic is on the opposite end of that scale. Somewhere in-between is better for performers if they wish to involve the audience in a live performance. In fact, this is the reason we go to live performances rather than sit in a comfortable armchair in our living room playing a CD.
But that aside, Vidovic still captured the audience with the cool perfection of her playing and that is also fascinating to watch in its own way.
The program opened with performance by some young guitarists, all (except for the double bass player) are students of Allegro’s Artistic Director, Christopher McGuire, at Booker T. Washington. Below is the program they played:
- Prelude de Adios by Alfonso Montes, played by Amari Green, 11th grade
- Lagrima by Francisco Tarrega, played by Makariah "Max" Gaddis, 12th grade
- Largo and Allegro from Concerto in D for Lute by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by Amari Green and Max Gaddis, guitars, and Simon Schrag on double bass, which gave it a jazzy feel