Review / Three fine guitarists please the audience

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Grigoryan brothers, Slava, left, and Leonard… The Street Theatre, Thursday, February 14.

WHILE Slava and Leonard Grigoryan are generally thought of as classical guitarists their musical interests extend rather more widely than expected. On this current tour they are joined by Austrian jazz guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel for a concert that kept well away from any hint of the usual classical guitar repertoire.

The Grigoryans mostly played their classical guitars, while Muthsiel’s electric guitar was run through effects pedals and an amplifier but only to bring the volume up to that of the acoustic classical guitars. Subtle overall sound re-enforcement brought the level up so every note was heard comfortably.

The program was a mix of composition by Wolfgang Muthspiel, a couple from Lenoard Grigoryan and several by American guitarist Ralph Towner, who the brothers describe as “one of their heroes”. That acknowledgement of Towner’s influence very much set the tone for the style of the evening’s music, sitting comfortably, if sometimes a little unexpectedly, between jazz and classical music. In the same way it was a balance between scored and improvised music, although rarely could the boundaries be discerned.

The was mostly trio performances, with each duo combination having one piece each and a solo from Muthspiel. This started with the music being put through an electronic delay, so each note repeated exactly a bar later, with Muthspiel playing an ever evolving harmony with himself. In other pieces he used an effect that dropped the sound of his guitar down an octave to add bass lines for extra tonal colour.

The Grigoryan’s played with their expected technical skill and musicality. There was a real sense of enjoyment among the three musicians and their pleasure was obvious when they pulled off a particularly tricky passage or tight cue. Any egos had been left in the guitar cases and this concert was three very fine musicians enjoying themselves and pleasing the audience.

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