October 2005

String, Strings, Strings
Via Salzburg with Eliot Fisk
October 20, 2005St. Andrews UnitedToronto
Coincidental Chamber Concert
by Stanley Fefferman
It is a happy coincidence that guitarist Eliot Fisk who lives and teaches part of the year in Salzburg should be the guest of the string quartet Via Salzburg directed by Mayumi Seiler. The programme opened with Via Salzburg performing Boccherini’s charming Quartet No.65 in G major, which, coincidentally, Ms. Seiler has recorded for Capriccio.

Ms. Seiler introduced her violin into Astor Piazzolla’s dynamic L’Histoire du tango, incidentally, scored originally for flute and guitar. The evening’s programme was generous and varied, the guitarist, Mr. Fisk, was monumental, and the playing of Via Salzburg members in various combinations was consistently satisfactory.

Only the venue was unfortunate, chosen coincidental to a CBC labour dispute, which disabled their home venue, the Glenn Gould Auditorium. Here are some highlights of the concert.

The Boccherini is full of Rococo charm, optimism and, coincidentally, shows influences from the guitar tradition in Boccherini’s adopted homeland, Spain. The first dance-like movement, intended to portray the villages of Spain, develops variations on a trio of moods from tickly-teasy that swells to an energetic reaction before subsiding into a calm. The second movement, a minuet, is elegantly paced with a flourish of warm feelings that build to an excited state. Thus we have depicted the two classes of Spaniards around 1800. The darker tones of Rachel Mercer’s cello harmonies were notable.

Eliot Fisk joined the ensemble for Paganini’s Terzetto concertante in D major for guitar, viola, and cello. For the most part, the viola is the principal voice in this piece, except for the second movement. We had the rare opportunity to experience a virtuoso playing the guitar as a rhythm instrument, back in the shadows of the piece with the cello.

Eliot Fisk
Astor Piazzolla’s L’Histoire du tango, scored here for violin and guitar, allowed both musicians to show their flamboyance and fire. In the second, slow movement that Mr. Fisk introduced with exquisitely toned playing, Ms. Seiler’s violin picks up the sad emotion and walks in the background like vines growing on a brick garden wall, the delicacy of her touch a match for his. The final movement entitled “Concert d’aujourd’hui” is filled with passion and an aching gentleness.

Vivaldi’s Concerto in D major for guitar and strings, RV 93 is gorgeous and stately, especially with the addition of the harpsichord. Mr. Fisk’s playing over the ensemble was mesmerizing, like water dripping from a rock into a forest pool on an autumn day when the breeze is redolent with birdsong and the rustle of leaves.

The finale of this feast was the Quintet for guitar and strings, Op. 143 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Composed, incidentally, in 1950 for Fisk’s teacher, Andres Segovia, and much performed since, the piece showcases the beseeching tenderness of the guitar. The languid flow of the strings and sparkle of the guitar is like the dance of sunlight on the swelling breast of the ocean.

It was an evening of deep feeling.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Stanley Fefferman
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