Manuel Barrueco shows brilliance with guitar MUSIC REVIEW

September 30, 1993|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Music Critic

That Manuel Barrueco is a remarkable musician was apparent from the beginning of the guitar recital he gave last night in Friedberg Hall.

Anyone who can play the slow opening allemande of Silvius Weiss' Suite in D minor and sustain it with so gripping a sense of inevitability demands attention and respect.

Anyone who can make this music, which was written for the lute and which was played in what was presumably the guitarist's own arrangement, sound like great music deserves even more.

Weiss, an almost exact contemporary of J. S. Bach and probably the greatest lutentist of the Baroque period, was no Bach. But Barrueco was able to persuade a listener that this music was greater than it was. That he could was a tribute to the guitarist's virtuosity, his control of color, his command of style, his wide dynamic range and his imaginative approach to texture.

The articulation in the work's faster movements was little short of amazing; slow movements like the work's sarabande exerted a profound tug on the heart; and the concluding gigue was a joy.

The recital -- which moved from strength to strength -- made one understand why the guitarist, who teaches at Peabody, has become the kind of magnet at the institution that Leon Fleisher is for the piano and Stephen Kates for the cello.

Fernando Sor's "Variations on a Theme by Mozart" was presented in a way that was simultaneously operatic and intimate, with an infallible sense of rhythm that made it possible for the guitarist to make the piece sound as free as an improvisation.

This was playing that -- despite its often phenomenal brilliance -- seemed devoid of superficial showiness. Barrueco -- whether in Britten's amazingly subtle "Nocturnal," Chick Corea's simple and affecting "Seven Children's Songs," or the mournful "Tango" and the atmospheric and exciting "Asturias" of Albeniz -- always served the music.

The guitar is an instrument that is cradled in the arms next to the heart. When Barrueco plays, it speaks to the heart.

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