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Concert Review: Jerome Mouffe in Fort Worth, TX

Friday night (10/8/10), Jerome Mouffe opened Guitar Fort Worth‘s 2010/11 season.

I knew from watching Jerome’s video that he was a more than technically proficient player. Unfortunately, he doesn’t put the true representations of his playing up on Youtube, instead focusing on more flashy pieces.

Lessons from Eliot

Jerome is a student of Eliot Fisk, and it seems he’s inherited some good things. First off, Jerome plays with a huge dynamic range. Second, he’s not afraid to really go for it.

I do think that Jerome got some of Fisk’s attitude about humor and flash, however. The one piece of the night that I didn’t care for was Legnani’s Fantasia, Op. 19. It seemed a bit out of control. As he explained before playing it, the Fantasia, like a lot of other 19C music, features a lot of musical humor. It seems that Jerome’s sense of musical humor mostly involves playing it very fast. He was very technically able to do so, but I felt the piece lost a lot.

A Very Expressive Player

Despite not enjoying the Fantasia, I could tell that Jerome though deeply about his interpretation of the piece. It was clear throughout the concert that he’s a very thoughtful and refined musician. Every piece had a broad shape and arch, and every phrase was shaped.

Jerome’s incredible technique is a vehicle for his highly expressive playing.

Programming

Jerome seems to focus on repertoire in the Romantic vein (full program below). I think that’s okay, but two hours of Romantic music was a bit much. By romantic music I’m referring mostly to the tonal language and style in which the pieces were composed, not the romantic period of music. I guess I just wanted something different throughout the program. There was a brief style change at the end of the program, and it’s clear from that and hearing Jerome teach a masterclass that he could play anything with the same amount of skill he displayed on the pieces he chose. So why not spice it up a little?

I do have to make a special note here about Jerome’s playing of Piazzolla. It was awesome. When you listen to Piazzolla playing his own music it’s kind of dark and gritty. But for some reason guitarists like to make it pretty in arrangements. Not so here. Jerome kept a lot of that grittiness and dark quality — I really dug it.

Is Jerome Worth Seeing/Booking?

Absolutely. He’s one of few players that has the complete package of musical and technical virtuosity. Guitar Fort Worth couldn’t have done better in choosing a season opener.

Program

  • Reverie – Nocturne, Op. 19 – Giulio Regondi
  • Fantasia, Op. 19 – Luigi Legnani
  • Una limosnita por el amor de dios and Mazurka Appassionata – Agustin Barrios Mangore
  • Introduction and Caprice – Giulio Regondi
  • INTERMISSION
  • Sonatina – Federico Moreno Torroba
  • Cordoba, Mallorca, and Asturias – Isaac Albeniz
  • La Muerte del Angel – Astor Piazzolla**

**there was another tango piece here as well, but I didn’t catch the title. Jerome announced his pieces from the stage.

One Response leave one →
  1. 2011 September 2
    Scott Borg permalink

    While I firmly agree with alot of this review, I must say, I was quite perplexed about the comments in regards to the fantasia. Unfortunately a vast majority of guitarists have major misconceptions about the stylistic traits of fantasia as a genre, and are often swayed by incorrect interpretations produced by “competition” players. One only has to consider the GFA several years back with the Milan Fantasia which all finalists played note perfect but in a painfully strict tempo, disregarding the very essence of the music itself. The fantasia on all other instrumentation is whimsical, full of drama, humor, virtuosity, mood and tempo shifts, many which are influenced by the “Affections”, a concept pivotal throughout the Baroque period. We have all the resources of treatises and performance practice techniques from other instruments, why then, has the guitar got it so wrong? Where is the thirst for substance?

    As I am aware of the extensive research that Mouffe has done on an enormity of treatises in regards to the Fantasia and improvisation, I will go out on a limb and state that he is perhaps one of the very few guitarists currently giving an accurate depiction of the fantasia genre.

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