Barrueco exceeds expectations in concert for Guitar Society

February 25, 1997|By Larry Harris | Larry Harris,SUN STAFF

Manuel Barrueco gave careful consideration to the classical guitar program he presented Saturday night at Peabody's Friedberg Hall.

Playing for an audience that would include many friends and his own students, the Cuban-born artist, who last week moved into a new Lutherville home, wanted both to display his great technical skills and to evoke the beauty and emotion that lie sleeping within his chosen instrument.

"This is the one place where you would not want a bad concert," said Barrueco, whose presence as a teacher at Peabody in the last several years has helped to make the guitar program well known internationally.

He need not have worried. By the time the sellout audience of 700-plus had exhausted itself calling for three encores, there was no doubt Barrueco's selections and execution on his guitar constructed by German luthier Matthias Damman had easily met and surpassed expectations.

Barrueco, playing for the first time under the sponsorship of the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, began the night with J.S. Bach's Sonata for Violin in A minor. Barrueco has recently recorded all three such sonatas for the EMI label, which will release the disk this summer.

Barrueco then showed a melodic, romantic side with five achingly beautiful songs originally written by Schubert and transcribed by J.K. Mertz.

After intermission, Barrueco played a suite of songs derived from the Yoruba, an African tribe sold into slavery and brought to Cuba. The music and customs of the Yoruba have survived, and Barrueco brought wonderful life to their legacy with intricate rhythms and harmonics.

Next came a terribly difficult piece, "Un Tiempo fue Italica Famosa," by Joaquin Rodrigo, who recently celebrated his 95th birthday.

Barrueco has recorded this with tenor Placido Domingo, and the resulting disk will be released in the fall.

The regular program concluded with Manuel De Falla's well-known "The Three-Cornered Hat," a traditional suite that allowed Barrueco to express the excitement and flavor of Romantic Spanish composers as only he can. The three encores were just as warmly received, especially the last, another tantalizing Afro-Cuban melody by Lecuona, whom Barrueco calls the Gershwin of Cuba."

The night was not a perfect one, however. A ticket mix-up caused a 15-minute delay in starting time and the over-appreciative audience was quick to shower applause at inappropriate intervals, temporarily disconcerting the artist.

As usual, Barrueco has scant time to bask in his glory. On Thursday in Texas, he is scheduled to play with the San Antonio Symphony in the world premiere of "Concerto Barroco" by the Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierrra, and then he is off on a month-long tour of Italy.

Pub Date: 2/25/97

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