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
11/10/06

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
26/10/05

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’.

“Cool hands ring true?
Norden Farm Arts Centre, Maidenhead.
Geoff Cowart, Maidenhead Express
4/03/05
****

MEXICAN guitarist and Royal College of Music Junior Fellow Morgan Szymanski, made a welcome return to Norden Farm last Thursday.

Settling into his chair on the bare stage, the 25-year-old Morgan said: “It’s not everyday I get to say ‘Good Morning’ to an audience?.

Suitable to the tranquil mood, he laid into composer Alec Roth’s meditative piece, The Unicorn in the Garden, a fluffy yet technically demanding tune.

It was followed by the more serious, classically-based Sonata by Manuel Ponce, allowing Morgan to display his fine understanding of the complex music, gauging both the piece’s mood and the rhythm expertly. Never wishing to sacrifice tone for volume, Morgan still managed to fill the hall with the warm sound of his guitar.

The next two pieces, Roth’s Song to the Moon and Iannarelli’s Tribute to Keith Jarrett, showed Morgan’s skill at creating moods with his strings while showing off near perfect technique. Both pieces focused on a central theme that was then repeated, creating an overwhelming hypnotic effect.

He snapped the crowd out of its trance with the glorious Cuban Landscape with Bells by Leo Brouwer, letting the riffs fly while de-tuning his guitar to create the sound of a throng of bells.

The final trick up Morgan’s sleeve was Jorge Ritter’s Capoeira Variations, with a musical theme developed from the Brazilian martial art. Over ten minutes, Morgan swung the tune from jazz to rock (even quoting guitar god Jimmy Hendrix) to finish his lunchtime set in empathetic style.

At just 25, Morgan has a very promising career ahead.

Morgan Szymanski
St. George’s Bristol
John Packwood, B.E.P
26/11/04
****

Morgan Szymanski, who paid his first visit to Bristol for this lunchtime series recital, is a talented guitarist with a great future before him.
He opened the concert with a work by the British composer Alec Roth, who based his piece on a picture by a Brazilian artist, The Unicorn in the Garden.

Moving from the lower to the upper register of the instrument in rapid succession, the soloist showed a range of colour in his excellent interpretation of this interesting composition.

The Mexican composer Manuel Ponce wrote six Sonatas for Guitar in the styles of different composers. Number three certainly has the Hispanic sound of his own country. It leads in with a gentle tune in the top compass followed by a delightful Chanson, after which the Allegro moves along in the minor key before ending in quiet solitude.

Two contrasting pieces by the Italian Simone Iannarelli firstly offered a charming tune in waltz-time the bell-like sounds in Cancion para Beatriz. They were both given sympathetic readings by Szymanski, who was given a chance to show his exceptional skills in Cuban Landscape with Bells by Leo Brouwer.

The second piece by Alec Roth was Cat Dances, which is a description in music of the antics of four different cats encountered by the composer. The feeling shown varied from
light and airy to sombre and finally hilarious with the Cheshire Cat. These images were brilliantly portrayed.

As an encore we were treated to the exquisite Capricho Arabe by Francisco Tarrega.