Ana Vidovic

Guitar in the Garden

Sun, June 21, 2015, 4:30pm

Overview

It’s a warm June evening. Lush, tranquil gardens embrace a stone relic of generations past, the Medieval Mount, as the last of the day’s sunlight filters through a tall stand of cedars beyond, falling quietly among the grasses and greenery. You’ve entered the Sunken Garden, a placid retreat at the southeast corner of this Italianate campus and the setting for Guitar in the Garden, a serene and intimate listening experience offered each summer at Caramoor.

A stylistically gifted performer, Ana Vidovic returns to Caramoor for her second Guitar in the Garden appearance with works by Bach, Torroba, Takemitsu, and others. Praised for her eloquent communicative abilities and fluid virtuosity, Vidovic has presented over 1,000 recital programs since launching her classical guitar career to much acclaim more than twenty-five years ago.

Audiences relish the free-flowing synergy with artists this peaceful outdoor series allows. Experience pastoral listening at its finest with us.

“Vidovic’s playing is nuanced and intensely personal, both deeply felt and deeply thought.”
The Washington Post

Sor Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9
Torroba Sonatina, Allegretto, Andante, Allegro
Mangore Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios
Albeniz Granada, Asturias
IntermissionBach Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998 (Edited for Guitar by Frank Koonce)
Takemitsu From 12 Songs for Guitar, Yesterday
Mangore  La Catedral, Preludio saudade, Andante religioso, Allegro solemne
Lauro  El Marabino, Vals Venezolano No. 2, Vals Venezolano No. 3

Ana Vidovic 

Ana is an extraordinary talent with formidable gifts taking her place amongst the elite musicians of the world today.   She is known for her beautiful tone, precise technique, well defined phrasing and extremely thoughtful artistry and musicianship. Since first taking the stage in 1988, her international performance career includes recitals, concerto engagements and festival appearances in many of Europe’s cultural destinations including Budapest, Copenhagen, London, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Salzburg, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb.   Her tours have also taken her to Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Korea and Mexico.   In North America, audiences have seen her on the stages of Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York City, San Francisco, St. Louis, Toronto, Washington, DC and more.   Equally impressive is the fact that she has recorded 6 CDs.   Mel Bay Publications has released Ana Vidovic’s DVD entitled “Guitar Artistry in Concert,” a journey through the  music of Torroba, Piazzolla and Pierre Bensusan, Sergio Assad, Stanley Myers, Villa-Lobos and Agustin Barrios Mangoré, and “Guitar Virtuoso,” a performance of works by Bach, Torroba, Paganini and Walton,

Her Summer 2012 debut tour to Australia with recitals in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane was followed by tours to Poland and Brazil as well as throughout the U.S. including her Washington, DC recital debut.   Other recitals in the 2012-13 season took place in New York City, Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, Portland (OR) and Sarasota, FL; and concerto performances with the Evansville (IN) Philharmonic, and Glacier, Knoxville and Rogue Valley (OR) Symphonies.    Her prolific career took her to numerous cultural destinations during the 2013-14 season including London where she performed at King’s Place.   Other recitals outside North America took place in Carthage (Tunesia), Cuenca (Equador),  Bordeaux (France), Linz (Austria), Avezzano and Pescara (Italy), Japan and Sao Paulo (Brazil) in addition to the Canadian cities of Kitchener and Winnipeg.   Stateside recitals took place in Baltimore, St. Louis, Portland (OR), Los Angeles, Krannert Center in Champaign, IL, Orlando, Greensboro, Jacksonville and New York City where Ms. Vidovic performed a recital at the New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes College of Music.   Her concerto performances took place with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Wheeling Symphony and the Slovene Orchestra in Slovenia.   She also adjudicated the Falletta Guitar Competition in Buffalo.

Ana Vidovic’s 2014-15 season is filled with engagements spanning the USA and abroad including concerto performances with the Bangor Symphony (Maine), collaborating again with Lucas Richman; Zagreb Philharmonic conducted by David Danzmyer as well as in Laramie, WY where Ms. Vidovic will perform with the University of Wyoming orchestra as well as give a solo recital.   Additional recitals are scheduled in Baraboo (WI), Russellville (AR), Westport (CT), Boston, Cincinnati at Xavier University (with a masterclass at the Univ. of Louisville), Evanston (IL) at Northwestern University, Portland (OR), Seattle and at Washington, DC’s National Gallery of Art.  Canadian cities included in her tour plans this season are Edmonton and Calgary as well as concerts in Aachen and Ettlingen, Germany.

Ms. Vidovic has won an impressive number of prizes and international competitions including first prizes in the Albert Augustine International Competition in Bath, England, the Fernando Sor competition in Rome, Italy and the Francisco Tarrega competition in Benicasim, Spain. Other top prizes include the Eurovision Competition for Young Artists, Mauro Giuliani competition in Italy, Printemps de la Guitare in Belgium and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. In Croatia, the guitarist has performed Symphony Orchestra of the Croatian Radio and Television, as well as having been featured in three television documentaries by the eminent Croatian film director Petar Krelja. Ana Vidovic comes from the small town of Karlovac near Zagreb, Croatia, and started playing guitar at the age of 5, and by 7 had given her first public performance. At the age of 11 she was performing internationally, and at 13 became the youngest student to attend the prestigious National Musical Academy in Zagreb where she studied with Professor Istvan Romer.  Ana’s reputation in Europe led to an invitation to study with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory from which she graduated.

Ms. Vidovic previously performed at Caramoor during the 2013 Summer Music Festival.

About the Music

 

Fernando Sor/1778-1839/Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9

 

The Catalan composer Fernando Sor is regarded as one of the most significant masters of the guitar and its literature, not only because of some 65 guitar compositions, which make up an important part of the classical literature for the instrument, but also his 1830 Méthode pour la guitarre, which is still the fundamental technical guide to playing the classical guitar. All but totally forgotten are his early opera, his half dozen ballets (one of these, Cendrillon, was performed over 100 times in Paris and was chosen to open the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 1823.) Before his time, much guitar music consisted largely of playing chordally, but Sor (who admitted his indebtedness to Haydn and Mozart) created his music in parts, with lines moving in counterpoint to offer a more varied texture.  This set of variations, one of his best known (and most challenging) works was evidently composed in England and performed for the entertainment of the guests at noble parties.

 

The tune in question is a short male chorus from near the end of Act I of The Magic Flute. Papagena and Pamina are being pursued by servants of Sarastro. Papageno suddenly remembers that he has been presented with a set of magic bells (a glockenspiel played offstage), and when he begins to play it, their pursuers are so enchanted that they begin dancing. The original text, Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schön (“That sounds so splendid, that sounds so beautiful”), but in non-German-speaking countries, including England, the work was often performed in Italian, so this number sometimes bears the title  O dolce armonia (“O sweet harmony”). Already from the outset Sor’s version inserts slight variants into the theme, and the variations that follow call for increasing superb technique.

 

Federico Moreno Torroba/1891-1982/ Sonatina

 

Moreno Torroba, born in Madrid, began studying music with his father, José Moreno Ballesteros, with whom he collaborated on his first zarzuela at age twenty-one. He went on to compose dozens of zarzuelas between 1912 and 1966, through the late period of zarzuela grande into a long decline of general popularity of the genre. When that particular form of musical theater lost its public appeal, his own flow of theatrical composition trailed off in the 1960s. But he had also all along composed a substantial amount of guitar music (an instrument that he did not play himself), especially for his much admired friend Andres Segovia, for whom he wrote his first major work for solo guitar, the Sonatina, in 1924, and continued writing such works, including guitar concertos, almost to the end of his life.

 

The Sonatina is cast in three movements. The opening Allegretto runs on a characteristic dance rhythm that is especially marked at the beginning and end of the movement. The Andante is a broadly lyrical movement in which the themes are animated by decorative turn figures and the lush harmony unfolds with strings of parallel thirds or sixths like an operatic love duet. The closing Allegro also emphasizes a strong dance rhythm (four sixteenth notes as a pickup to a strong downbeat in 3/8 time) that suggests a folk tune as it moves through a series of modal turns and new keys in its constantly unfolding activity.

 

Agustín Barrios Mangoré/1885-1944/Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios

 

The Paraguayan Augustin Barrios was the greatest guitarist/composer of the first half of the twentieth century. Though born in a small town, he was encouraged by a family that valued both music and literature to pursue his interests. From a very early age he began to play the guitar; this early experience gave him the opportunity to develop his extraordinary ability as an improviser on the instrument. Studies at a Jesuit school added to that the technical knowledge of harmony. Recognized as an intellectual prodigy, he was sent, at the age of 13, to the Colegio Nacional in Asunción. There he achieved distinction in studies ranging from music to mathematics, journalism and literature. In addition to Spanish, he also spoke Guaraní, the native tongue of Paraguay, and he frequently performed in native dress to express his empathy with the native peoples. At the same time, he was remarkably cosmopolitan, reading French, English, and German, and pursuing philosophy, poetry, and theosophy. His output as a composer for the guitar numbers some 300 works.

 

Una limosna por el amore de Dios takes its title from the words addressed to him by a beggar woman as he was teaching in his home in El Salvador: “Alms for the love of God.” The composition features a continuous tremolo sounding against an ostinato pattern in eighth-notes said to have represented the old woman’s knocking on his door. When he composed this work, he dedicated it to her memory.

 

Isaac Albéniz/1860-1909/Granada/Asturias

 

Isaac Albéniz (1860‑1909) is to Spain what Aaron Copland is to the United States—a prime force in the creation of a truly national music. During the nineteenth century, the use of Spanish rhythms and melodic turns as an exotic device was much used by composers as diverse as Lalo, Bizet, Rimsky‑Korsakov, and Victor Herbert. In the early years of this century, too, both Debussy and Ravel made much use of the Spanish idiom. But by that time the influence had become a two-way street. Isaac Albéniz, after showing precocious gifts as a pianist, traveled widely to perform and study. His peripatetic youth took him to Argentina (as a stowaway at the age of twelve!), Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and all the way across the United States to San Francisco. He returned to Spain in 1873, then went to study with the distinguished pedagogues of the Leipzig Conservatory, Salomon Jadassohn and Carl Reinecke.

 

Fatefully, he met the Spanish composer and musicologist Felipe Pedrell, who encouraged him to delve into the musical resources of his own country, and who opened up to him the riches of true Spanish music, as opposed to the flashy imitations of foreign visitors. He became a teacher in the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he lived, on and off, for nearly ten years. He was, of course, active as a composer and pianist during this time, and thus was part of the great ferment of musical activity that we lump under the general designation of “impressionism.”

 

Albéniz’s instrument was the piano, and he composed any number of truly Spanish works for that instrument. He assembled his Suite española in 1886, gathering his versions of traditional songs and dances from Andalucia and other Spanish regions. The number entitled Asturias, leyenda (a legend from Asturias), though composed for  piano, so perfectly captures the idiom of the guitar—on which Albéniz originally heard them performed—that many have been transcribed for what we might call the original instrument.

 

Johann Sebastian Bach/1685-1750/Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998

Edited for Guitar by Frank Koonce

 

Among Bach’s vast output is a handful of works for the lute, which were probably inspired by Silvius Leopold Weiss, by far the greatest lutenist of his day, whose dates almost exactly match those of Bach (1686-1750), and who visited Bach in 1739. Bach may have seen him again when he went to Dresden, where Weiss was employed at the court, to visit his son Wilhelm Friedemann. Since the best estimate of a date for the Prelude, Allegro, and Fugue is some time in the early 1740s, it is hard to imagine that Bach could have conceived it for anyone else. It is a large-scale and virtuosic solo work, opening with a flowing Prelude that just hints at the beginning of the Fugue to follow. The Fugue is an elaborate one with elements of recapitulation (very unusual in Bach). It is followed by a brilliant, racing Allegro that puts the player’s virtuosity to a severe test, and this is no less the case on the lute’s modern equivalent, the guitar.

 

Toru Takemitsu /1930-1996/From 12 Songs for Guitar: Yesterday

 

Toru Takemitsu was far and away the best-known Japanese composer of the twentieth century. He came late to music, but then developed a style that is uniquely his own, emphasizing color and texture, with little reference to traditional theory. Silence is as important as sound in his works. Takemitsu’s art is typically Japanese in being frequently inspired by very precise, concrete images suggested by poems or works of art. His titles, too, frequently are drawn from literature, whether in Japanese or English. The extent of Takemitsu’s musical activity really only became known after his death when his publisher issued a large CD box that supposedly contained his complete works, which included works shaped by avant-garde figures like John Cage,  or music drawing on traditional Japanese music, a vast collection of chamber music for different combinations of instruments, piano music, and a rich and varied series of film scores (in which, as befits music intended to fit a dramatic situation, he often dropped his modernist style completely and created pastiches of, say, European waltzes, if it was appropriate to the score.)

 

Many who have heard Takemitsu’s music will be surprised to learn that he also prepared a volume of a dozen popular songs from England and America between the 1930s and the 1960s arranged for guitar solo. Yesterday, is, of course, one of the most popular and lyrical pieces created by the Beatles.

 

Agustín Barrios Mangoré/La Catedral

 

Barrios is reported to have composed over 300 pieces for the guitar. Only about one-third of these have been recovered, either from manuscripts or from his own recordings. Publication of his work, despite his acclaim as composer and performer, was almost entirely posthumous.

 

La Catedral (1921) was inspired by the work of Bach. It was especially admired by Segovia, who told the story this way:  “In 1921 in Buenos Aires, I played at the hall La Argentina noted for its good acoustics for guitar, where Barrios had concertized just weeks before me. He was presented to me by his secretary Elbio Trapani. At my invitation Barrios visited me at the hotel and played for me upon my very own guitar several of his compositions among which the one that really impressed me was a magnificent concert piece The Cathedral whose first movement is an andante, like an introduction and prelude, and a second very virtuosic piece which is ideal for the repertory of any concert guitarist. Barrios had promised to send me immediately a copy of the work (I had ten days remaining before continuing my journey) but I never received a copy.”  Evidently Barrios wanted to keep his works to himself, which is not unusual with composers who are also virtuosos on their instrument.

 

Segovia’s comments describe the character of the piece (though what he refers to as the first movement must refer to the first two movements, both in relatively slow tempos.) The first movement is headed Saudade, a term that came into Spanish from Portuguese suggesting an aching memory for something in the past no longer recoverable. It is very like a Bach prelude with a melody high in the texture floating over an accompaniment in which all the parts project a continuous 16th-note rhythmic activity. The second movement, Andante religioso, is slow and contemplative. By way of contrast, the closing movement, Allegro solemne, is a driving perpetuo moto in running eighth-notes.

 

Antonio Lauro/1917-1986/El Marabino/Vals Venezolano No. 2/Vals Venezolano No. 3

 

The Venezuelan Antonio Lauro started his musical life as a pianist studying at the Caracas Conservatory, but the experience of hearing Agustín Barrios persuaded him to take up the guitar. His best known works are those which he either composed originally for guitar or arranged from other media.

 

El Marabino (a more common term is maracucho) refers to a native of Maracaibo, an important city where Lauro himself lived for a time. It is thus one of many contributions in his works to the nationalistic cultural movement in South American during his life.

 

Lauro is especially identified with his numerous “Venezuelan waltzes,” which play with the elements that have always made the waltz a popular form, including lyrical melody, the teasing rhythmic quality of the hemiola, and a general rhythmic verve.