In performance: Xuefei Yang, guitar
Chinese guitarist makes DC debut on Marlowe series
by Joan Reinthaler
Attending a Marlowe Guitar Series concert is a little like being in the middle of a family reunion. The audience is full of people who know each other. Kids are everywhere. And Tim Healy, who emcees with the gusto of a favorite uncle, and guitar impresario Regis Ferruzza, who operates as an ever-present but silent stage manager, oversee the raffles and door prizes that are features of each concert. All this conviviality, however, is just a backdrop for the real mission of the series: to bring excellent guitar performance to town on a regular basis.
Saturday's concert at Bethesda's Westmoreland Congregational Church featured Xuefei Yang in her first area performance. As meticulous a technician as she is a musician, the Chinese guitarist avoids the rubato-filled rhythmic affectations so many guitarists espouse and she manages to highlight the individual lines of contrapuntal passages while still maintaining a sense of momentum and rhythmic flow.
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In pieces (or arrangements of pieces) by Bach, Granados, Tárrega, Brouwer and Jobim, her emphasis was on clarity and balance. The 10 dance movements of Granados's "Valses Poeticos" emerged with highly individual personalities, and the variations of Tárrega's "Carnival of Venice" built in complexity and virtuosity to a climax tinged with humor.
The most compelling piece on the program, however, was the "Yi Dance" by Huiran Wang, originally for the p'i-p'a (a Chinese lute), based on music for a joyous festival. Fresh and delicate, it nonetheless projected excitement, though in an idiom far removed from stock classical-guitar vocabulary.
-- Joan Reinthaler
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