Classical guitar virtuoso enthrals

IT was a unique treat for music lovers when Italian classical guitarist Cinzia Milani performed at Classics at the Castle at Richmond House recently.

DEXTROUS FINGERS: Italian classical guitarist Cinzia Milani performing at Richmond House recently Picture: JON HOUZET

Some had seen Milani on her previous visit to Richmond House three years ago.

Milani began studying classical guitar at a very young age, winning first prize at the International Competition of Milan when she was just five years of age.

By 12 her concert career had officially taken off in Italy.

Studies under famous Italian and Argentinian teachers followed, as well as performances in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, The United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia and South America.

Milani’s first piece at her concert last Friday was by John William Duarte, called Idylle pour Ida, a homage to Ida Presti, a renowned French classical guitarist who died tragically young.

Presti was a recurring theme in the concert, with Milani playing music composed by her, performed by her or dedicated to her.

One could feel the melancholy of Idylle, with Milani’s dextrous fingers making the guitar an instrument of mourning.

The second piece, Pequena Romanza by Miguel Abioniz, was premiered by Presti in France in 1948. It is familiar short piece.

The Presti piece Milani played was Danse Rythmique, which Presti had dedicated to her husband and fellow composer Alexandre Lagoya, followed appropriately by Lagoya’s Caprice, which he had dedicated to Presti. Both are wonderfully complex and haunting.

My favourite composition of the evening was Concert Studies by Dimitris Fampas. As noted in the programme notes provided by Classics at the Castle host Sue Gordon, there is a Greek flavour to Fampas’ music which is more joyous than the often sombre compositions for classical guitar.

Milani next played two pieces by Adelmo Prandi, which he dedicated to Milani, with whom he had collaborated. What a thing it must be to perform music dedicated to you!

Milani next ventured into compositions by South American composers Antonio Lauro and Maximo Diego Pujol, which featured some tapping of the wood while playing.

The final piece was by Prague guitarist Jiri Jirmal, but Milani obliged the audience with an encore.

“Thank you for coming and to the Gordons for inviting me,” Milani said.

Gordon said she was happy the concert was able to go ahead after the heavy rains earlier in the day, and that it was well timed for the day after Women’s Day.

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