Irish Times Review – Dublin – November 2006

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.