I just got back from a solo guitar concert given by Odair Assad. I’ve seen the Assad brothers in concert before, and they are both monster players and musicians. But Odair as a solo artist is phenomenal.
He began the concert with Choro de Suadade by Barrios, then onto a few Waltzes by Lauro, Villa-Lobos Etudes no. 10 and 12 and a Piazzolla piece. The real meat of the program came in the second half where he performed pieces dedicated to him. Started with a piece by Kevin Callahan called Red Fantasy, which was great. Very modern, but a very unique sense of tonality. After Red Fantasy came a set of pieces written by Odair’s brother Sergio Assad. The high point for me was listening to a brand-spanking-new Sonata by Leo Brouwer. It looked incredibly difficult to play. A very interesting piece, but kind of hard to follow. Hopefully Maestro Assad is planing on releasing another solo CD with these new works. If you’re interested in checking out his solo playing, Odair Assad has released a solo CD already called Fuga y Misterio.
All the musical stuff aside, it’s very hard for me to concentrate on the music when I go to a guitar concert. Whenever you hear your own instrument, it’s easy to get caught up watching the technical aspects or focusing on that. However, I have to say a few words about Odair Assad’s stage presence. It’s fantastic. He plays with this almost reckless abandon–he truly is able to let go. His technical ability is such that it does not hinder his performance it allows it to happen. And that’s amazing. He plays with this self-assurance that can’t really be described–I’d almost call it a swagger. It’s quite different from any other performer I’ve ever seen on any instrument. You can see on his face that he loves the music that he plays and the instrument with which he delivers it.
If you have a chance to see Odair Assad in a solo performance, it’s well worth the cost.