A featured violin/guitar duo concert -- how many of those can you recall? I can't remember any in my years of chamber-music attendance. That is, before Tuesday's in the Basile Theater of the IHC. Given the two performers extant at this one, violinist Augustin Hadelich and guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, we got to hear a perfect blend of colors, technique and musicianship. Hadelich is of course the 2006 Indy Violin Competition gold medalist, quite possibly the best one awarded that prize to date. Correspondingly Sáinz Villegas, born in La Rioja, Spain, won the first Chistopher Parkening Guitar Competition in 2006. Their program of 19th and 20th-century offerings nicely highlighted their individual and duo talents.
First we heard five of the seven songs from Manuel de Falla's Canciones populares españolas (Popular Spanish Songs - 1915), originally written for voice and piano. In just listening to Hadelich and Sáinz Villegas, who would have known that the pieces were composed to be sung? Our players blended the singing line into an exquisitely precise instrumental duo, with Hadelich's well controlled opulence matching Sáinz Villegas's beautifully rounded strumming, whether loud, soft, fast or slow.
Next came Niccolò Paganini's Sonata Concertata for Guitar and Violin in A, Op. 61 (1804), a Classical-era counterpart to the Falla. This was followed by the Invocación y Danza for Solo Guitar (1961) by Joaquin Rodrigo, who lived throughout the entire 20th century (1901-1999). Here Sáinz Villegas took command, with his five right fingers rapidly strumming over one note while his left ones delineated the melody, over one stretch.
Hadelich soloed, following the break, with the last of Eugene Ysaÿe's violin sonatas, No. 6, all Op. 27 (1924). These are familiar works, testing the acumen of our competition participants every four years. Our 2006 gold medalist soared in this one, giving us some of his best playing ever.
Sáinz Villegas came back for another solo, this time the contemporary Tango en Skai by Roland Dyens (b. 1955) from Tunisia. His tango exhibited a pops, dance-like flavor.
Our duo returned to give us the grand finale: world tango master Astor Piazzolla's Histoire du tango (1986), which explores that dance form's history in four parts, from 1900 to 1930 to 1960 to the "present." (Since Piazzolla was an Argentinean of Italian heritage, one wonders why his title is in French.). That brought the house down, producing an encore, for which I was regrettably unable to remain. Feb. 18; Indiana History Center