Gohar Vardanyan has a pedagogical pedigree that most guitarists would kill for. She’s studied with Manuel Barrueco, Antigoni Goni, and Sharon Isbin. Clearly she’s gleened more than a few gems of wisdom from her teachers. Vardanyan is an artist on the cusp of a great professional career. Guitar Fort Worth brought Ms. Vardanyan in for a concert on February 25, 2011.
Notes from Argentina
Gohar’s program opened with three pieces from Argentina, including Cardoso’s beautiful Milonga. My favorite of the set, however, was the famous Verano Porteño by Piazzolla. There’s been a lot of Piazzolla being played around Fort Worth lately, and this was the second or third time I’d heard Verano Porteño this season. But Ms. Vardanyan’s concert was the first time I actually heard a well executed, shaped bass line. The piece came to life.
A Romantic Touch
Gohar followed up with Andante y Polonaise, Op. 44 by Napoleon Coste, which showed off her technical chops nicely. To me this one felt a bit rushed, and the melody was sometimes lost. That said, Vardanyan’s phrasing, shaping and conveyance of the piece’s structure was top notch.
Two Barrios pieces followed: Valse No. 3 and Un Sueño en la Floresta. Valse No. 3 felt a bit rushed again, but Un Sueno was great — Vardanyan has a great tremolo and great phrasing.
A Trip to Spain
As all classical guitar concerts are legally required to have some Spanish music, Gohar include a Andaluza by Regino Sainz de la Maza and Sevilla by Albeniz.
The Sainz de la Maza piece struck me as a bit weak. From a musical standpoint, there wasn’t a lot of depth. That said, it’s was a nice show piece, and Gohar played it very well. Sevilla was great: fast clean, well phrased and well executed. Over the entire first half of the program, I got the sense that we really hadn’t seen anything yet. Gohar seemed to be taking it easy, and there were no big pieces yet.
Turina & Rodrigo
Ms. Vardanyan opened the second half with Turina’s Sonata, Op. 61. The first movement was good, but the second and third stand out in my mind. The second movement, an Andante, was beautiful. Gohar’s color palette, which, in my opinion, we didn’t get enough of in the first half came out in full force: a perfect mixture of beautiful, dolce sounds combined with fiery, bright scale runs when necessary. The third movement, Allegro Vivo, was great as well: well phrased, and really clean.
Rodrigo’s Invocacion y Danza was the best piece of the night. The piece, for those of you not familiar with it, opens with a section of harmonics and syncopated bass notes and alternates with faster, more intense sections before the Danza begins. There are very few times that I go to a concert and am completely enraptured by the person on stage. I can honestly say that happened last Friday. Gohar’s performance was evocative, and had my attention from the start. To come out of the comparatively straight forward music thus in the program and tackle the a piece with the depth of the Rodrigo was an amazing programming choice.
Counterpoint and the Big Finish
Vardanyan followed the Rodrigo with two Scarlatti Sonatas. Gohar’s strong thumb and well shaped bass lines made an appearance again in Scarlatti, and the counterpoint was very well done.
She finished the concert with Fantasie Hongroise by Mertz. First up, perfect ending piece, and, second, there isn’t much I can say about this work other than Gohar played the hell out of it. There’s a lot of flashy passages that she pulled off really well, and, of course, there’s a lot of depth that has to handled delicately.
What I enjoyed about Ms. Vardanyan’s concert was the duality: her ability to handled the delicate sections and, on the other side of the coin, her technical skills and ability to take on the most difficult passages with ease.
I do think there were times when she got a bit ahead of herself, and things got a bit rushed. But those few instances were overshadowed by all the great playing and musicianship. Gohar Vardanyan is truly a young guitarist to watch in the coming years.