Orchestra of the Swan with Morgan Szymanski
Stratford Music Festival
Preston Witts, Stratford Herald, 25/10/07

“…After this came the work most of the audience had been waiting for – the massively popular Concierto de Aranjuez by the blind Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999). The guitar soloist, Morgan Szymanski, entranced the packed auditorium with a rendering of this music – especially the yearning, deeply romantic, slow movement – of which it’s most famous practitioners would have been proud….Mr Szymanski gave a solo encore of that haunting guitar piece by Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909), Recuerdos de la Alhambra, which was a calming but fitting finale to an evening of great musical brio.?

Machaca – Mano a Mano

“This young virtuoso is that rare thing among guitarists: a fine chamber player?

Morgan Szymanski’s second disc features the young Mexican-born guitarist’s ensemble Machaca playing chamber music for guitar and various instruments, from Manuel M. Ponce’s Preludio for guitar and harpsichord to the final work, Alec Roth’s Quintet for guitar and strings (here receiving its first recording). Throughout, there’s a real freshness and sparkle to the playing that perfectly complements the light, attractive nature of the music. After Ponce’s curious Baroque evocation comes a darker shading in the form of three movements from Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango. Here, a violin takes the original flute part in the outer movements while the accordion offsets Szymanski’s sweet, fully rounded tone for the middle. Perhaps not quite as successful are the four pieces originally for solo guitar, which seem overburdened by the addition of a vocalist and/or percussion. No such reservations with Ponce’s Estrellita (arranged for cello and guitar) or Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No 5.

Simone Iannarelli’s Valzer Brillante for guitar and string quartet sees Szymanski and the Sacconi Quartet exhibit the same superb ensemble to be found in the Roth. The latter composer’s eclecticism and willingness continually to subvert expectations (the Prelude is especially effective in this respect) inspire the performers to seize collectively on the blues-based elements and inject a relaxed, improvisatory feel into the whole.

Minor reservations aside, “Mano a Mano? is a real jewel of a disc, with Szymanski demonstrating that he’s not only a soloist of formidable talent but also that rare thing among guitarists: a fine chamber musician.

William Yeoman

Mitchell / Szymanski

Coach House, Dublin Castle.

Martin Adams.
Irish Times 4/11/06.

Soprano Laura Mitchell and guitarist Morgan Szymanski are on a 7-venue Music Network Tour. Their programme of music from Spain and South America consists of original compositions inspired by folk music, of folk-song arrangements, and of guitar solos, all composed within the last 120 years.

Such an intimate programme is highly dependent on the performers having a sure aim towards the music and the audience. They have it.
Laura Mitchell’s clarity and ease of tone are ideal for music such as Rodrigo’s Three Spanish Songs, and the simple-yet-arty folk-song style of Ponce’s Three Mexican Songs. Her minute subtleties of expression, inflections of words, and bending of pitch and rhythm are the mark of a singer who knows that music of this kind cannot be over stated, and who can draw on a wealth of musicianship and technique to say the tiniest thing without fuss.

Morgan Szymanski’s guitar playing is amongst the best I have heard in a long time. In two Tangos by Piazzolla and in Tarrega’s demanding guitar arrangements of Sevilla and Cadiz from Albeniz’s Suite Espanola for piano, this Mexican-born musician’s flexible rhythmic energy and command of colour indicated a superb sense of style.

The Jota from De Falla’s Seven Spanish Folk Songs is well known in its version for full orchestra. But in this highly coloured performance from just two musicians, one forgot all about that. Mitchell and Szymanski seemed to know one another’s music as intimately as their own. They did not need to impress the audience, just to draw them in. And they did it in style, ending not with a bang, but with a rarified evocation-Villa-Lobos’ own arrangement of his Bachianas Brazileiras No.5, with the eight cellos impeccably reduced down to one guitar.

Morgan Szymanski
St. John’s, Sharow
Ripon International Festival
Darlington and Stockton Times
Dave Robson

DESPITE what his name suggests, guitarist Morgan Szymanski is neither Polish nor Russian, but a Mexican, whose studies brought him to the City of Edinburgh Music School and then the Royal College of Music in London.

His concert before a large audience in St. John’s, Sharow, comprised works by 20th and 21st century composers, including Alec Roth, a Durham University graduate who now directs the Royal Festival Hall Gamelan programme. His Unicorn in the Garden and Cancion de la Luna paid lip service to both gamelan music and the elegance of the 18th century in Szymanski’s playing.

Mexican composer Manuel Maria Ponce’s 3rd Sonata, in an agreeable unique style –“Mexican impressionism?, the programme note told us – was matched by his Theme, Variations and Finale, written for Segovia, who would play only six of its nine variations in his many performances. Szymanski performed all nine – the missing three being probably a world premiere performance.

The colourful and percussive nature of Brazil was beautifully caught in the exciting virtuoso style and use of the woodwork of the instrument in Paulo Bellinati’s Jongo, while La Catedral, by Agustin Barrios, from neighbouring Paraguay, evoked the nature of a cathedral, with gentle sounds evoking the calmness of a church interior in Preludio, a central allegro solemn with the steady tramp of a procession, and the final allegro, with it’s evocations of bells heard from the outside.

The almost mandatory Spanish influence was provided by four highly evocative pieces from Isaac Albeniz’s Suite Espanola. Though the work is better known in its original piano version, this guitar arrangement did not lose anything of its balmy excitements.

‘Morgan is a born communicator. He has the rare gift of being able to make his instrument sing….Any arts festival organiser should grab Morgan now, before his diary is full’.

‘Housed in an eye-catchingly tasteful but colourful card sleeve, one immediately is made aware of how lyrical a player Szymanski is. The opening piece, from whence the CD gets its title, is completely modern in every way but so warmly played with such care being taken over every sound produced that one warms to it immediately. The Cat Dances are also lovingly played but more quirky, as the four different feline characteristics are drawn on the music for us. The Iannarelli pairing is really lovely, with the Valzer very imaginative and fun to hear, with the Cancion aptly portraying Iannarelli’s melodic gifts. There is not a single make-weight piece or performance here. All the set is top class in every respect’.

Classical Guitar CD review December 2005

‘Guitarist is back with subtle touch’
Ashford Music Society
SKJ, Kentish Express, 17/11/05

THE young classical guitarist Morgan Szymanski appeared in Ashford earlier this year to considerable acclaim.

For his return visit, to Ashford Music Society at Norton Knatchbull School, he attracted a capacity audience to an enthralling recital of mostly Spanish and Latin-American music for the guitar.

Works by the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, such as theme and variations and three pieces, were originally featured by the great guitar virtuoso Segovia and were given exemplary performances by Szymanski, also born in Mexico City.

His technical dexterity and wide range or expression were particularly demonstrated to maximum effect, with items by the Paraguayan composer Barrios Mangore and in Tarrega’s colourful arrangement of the evocative suite Espanola for piano by the Spanish composer Albeniz – an arrangement which seemed to suit the guitar more than the piano original, especially when performed with such subtlety as on this occasion.

“Morgan’s mastery enthrals audience?
Ludlow Advertiser, MB

MORGAN Szymanski’s guitar recital on Saturday for Ludlow Music Society was an eye-opener in many ways.

Much of the music would have been unfamiliar. However, Morgan’s sensitive playing must have left his audience wanting to learn more about such composers as Agustin Barrios – known as the Paganini of the jungles of Paraguay – and Alec Roth, who has written four works for him.

The recital at Moor Park was the society’s annual Young Artists Platform Concert, under the auspices of the Countess of Munster’s Trust.

Morgan is a born communicator. He has the rare gift of being able to make his instrument sing. This came over particularly in music by Simone Iannarelli and the arresting evocation by Barrios of the calm and beauty of the Cathedral in Asuncion, Paraguay.

There was also fire in his playing, notably in the Suite Espanola by Albeniz. His dancing finger work in the final Asturias still haunts my waking hours afterwards. Any arts festival organiser should grab Morgan now, before his diary is too full.

Morgan Szymanski
Bath Festival
Angela Goodman
Bath Chronicle, 23/5/05

THIS young Mexican guitarist uses personal anectdote and fascinating detail to educate his audience and breathe life into each piece before he plays.

His playing is clearly inspired by admirations for the composers and by friendship and collaboration with, for example, Alec Roth, whose Unicorn in the Garden was a sweet, wistful evocation of movement and silence, with textured droplets of notes like dripping leaves and flowers opening. Roth’s Cancion de la Luna, a lyrical spiral ending in a moonbeam of white notes, was written after Szymanski had played him some Aztec music, including a dance to the moon.

Simone Iannarelli’s sunlight lullaby, Cancion para Beatriz, evokes a clock gently ticking and the soft sleep of a child; this music also has strong personal associations, due to the composer’s friendship with Morgan Szymanski.

At St Mary’s, Timsbury, guitarist Morgan Szymanski brought the vibrant colour of his native Mexico and South America to a damp Sunday afternoon. His homage to the guitar masters was sincere, but his own considerable gifts shone through, with the shaping of the cantilena and elegant tracery of Tarrega’s Capricho Arabe a real highlight’.