Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
Howard Thomas, Croydon Advertiser.
Another in the impressive series of talent under the Young Artists’ Platform umbrella from the Tillett Trust was Morgan Szymanski. Mexican-born, he firstly moved to Scotland to study guitar and composition, then to the Royal College of Music in London as a Wall Scholar.
It came as no surprise to read that he was awarded every prize available to guitarists at the RCM, as this recital demonstrated his outstanding musicianship on his instrument.
Tuesday’s pleasing and eclectic programme began with the Suite in A minor by the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), himself a well travelled musician who had studied in Germany and Italy. This solidly constructed suite of six attractive dances was written in at least homage to J.S. Bach for no less than Segovia.
All the other items were genuine guitar music rather than arrangements, and the concert was all the happier an occasion for that. The influence of the chosen title Un Dia de Noviembre upon the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer was unclear. Indeed, he is not widely known outside six-stringed circles. But on this showing, he ought to be more often heard.
Asturias (Leyenda) by the Spaniard Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) is frequently played at guitar recitals, seldom more musically than by Szymanski. The composer, by the way, was so brilliant a pianist that at the age of seven he was granted a place at the Paris Conservatory but was refused quickly for his unruly behaviour, and remained undisciplined throughout his life, both academically and socially.
He also composed several operas. None of those rough edges was apparent in Asturias.
Francisco Tarrega, also Spanish (1852-1909), though academically sound, was foremost a renowned guitarist and wrote almost exclusively for that instrument. His Recuerdos de la Alhambra is also frequently heard and as become very popular. Szymanski played it with an unmistakable freshness.
Paulo Bellinati was the Brazilian composer of Jongo, the item that left the audience hoping in vain for an encore.