Bolivar Hall, 13 September 2011: Classical Guitar Magazine Review

Morgan Szymanski (guitar) and Harriet Mackenzie (violin) at the London Classical Guitar Festival, Bolivar Hall, 13th of September 2011. Reviewed by Thérèse Wassily Saba.

The Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski who lives in London gave a rectal with the British violinist Harriet Mackenzie to open the fourth edition of the London Classical Guitar Festival, which is organised annually by ILAMS (the Iberian and Latin American Music Society). Their programme included arrangements of folk songs such as Estrellita by Manuel M.Ponce arranged for guitar and violin by Morgan Szymanski, Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartók and Spanish Folk Songs by Manuel de Falla. Harriet Mackenzie announced that she had heard the original field recordings which Bela Bartók had collected in 1915 and one could hear this in her bowing style, her use of glissandi, the phrasing and beautifully played melodic lines in the Romanian Five Folk Songs: Joc cu bata, Braul, Buciumeana, Poarca Romaneasca, and with a powerful and focused performance of the very rhythmic Maruntel.

Each of the performers played solos: Morgan Szymanski gave a very good performance of the tremolo piece Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios by Agustín Barrios Mangoré and Harriet Mackenzie gave a soothing performance of the Andante from Sonata in A minor BWV1003 by J.S. Bach as a violin solo.

Paganini was famous for writing violin and guitar duets with a virtuosic part for the violin and a very plain and simple part for the guitarist. The exception to this is Paganini’s three-movement Sonata Concertata in A Major Op.61 (1804) which has technically balanced parts for violin and guitar; Morgan Szymanski played his own small cadenzas in there as well.  They finished the concert with two movements from Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, building slowly to a fortissimo and with an excellent feel for the syncopations in the rhythm.

Those of you who recall the dramatic robbery of Morgan Szymanski’s (and Craig Ogden’s) guitars, under the pretence of each of them playing at a funeral in a central London church – different churches but on the same day – may be wondering what Morgan Szymanski is paying at the moment. He is now performing on a guitar by the Chinese guitar maker, Yulong Guo, which fared very well alongside Harriet Mackenzie’s historic instrument.

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