This is a guest review by Seth Guillen
I had the opportunity about a year ago to see the first Austin Peay State University workshop and competition up-close and personal; I was working it. During that competition I saw some excellent performances/performers, however, the player that won, Edel Muñoz, was a stand-out not only for the fact that he won but also was an excellent guitarist.
Now, almost a year later I got the chance to see Edel in a concert situation. Edel appeared today the seventeenth of April at the Nashville Public Library Concert Series with a casual air about him; what followed was far from a casual experience. The first half of the program consisted of what has been Edel’s competition set, Sonata in A Major, K. 208 D. Scarlatti, Prelude Fuga and Allegro, BWV 998 J.S. Bach, Andante and Rondo No. 2, D. Aguado and finished out with Elogio de la Danza by Brouwer.
After the first phrase of the Scarlatti I knew something was different and was going to continue to be different for this afternoon concert. I can only describe the Scarlatti Sonata as artistic and subtle with an extraordinary amount of elegance. The dynamic range was effective and thought out; even more powerful were the repeats. Edel took the repeats with ornaments, and they were some of the most tasteful and beautiful I have ever heard. Not only was the original melodic line intact and recognizable but even more exciting. Continuing on in the baroque fashion, the Bach PFA was just as engaging as the Scarlatti. I have personally heard this piece played more times than I care to admit to, but this time it was different. It was during this piece that I realized what I was enjoying most about the performance. Edel had mastered his neutral sound, where everything moves from, both dynamically and in tone color. The Bach was engaging and interesting and thoroughly thought out.
Both the Aguado Rondo and Elogio de la Danza were nuanced and stylistic performances. Muñoz played with grace and refinement in the Rondo, placing cadences and allowing the listener to enjoy arrival points, while in the Brouwer he maintained the intensity, keeping the audience guessing and making the closing piece as exciting as the first piece. It was obvious that the audience wished to give him a standing ovation right then before the intermission.
The second half consisted of two Cuban pieces, Mirandote by E. Martin and Guajira a mi madre by N. Rojas. I was unfamiliar with either of these pieces but enjoyed them. Muñoz ended the second piece by looking up at the audience and saying the only word he uttered the entire concert, “Cuba”. This word actually had an immediate effect: charm. It was a very clever moment in the concert. The rest of the concert finished out with Invocacion y Danza by J. Rodrigo and Sonatina by F.M. Torroba. Suffice it to say, the second half was better than the first half. All of the details were there, phrases, subtlety, nuance intensity and every moment that needed to breathe did.
Muñoz played a concert that was on the heavy side of the classical guitar rep but pulled it off with style. The few complaints I did have, such as obnoxious tuning and some strange stage deportment were overshadowed by the artistry of the music. I tend to feel one of two ways after a concert: 1) like going home and reading a book, watching TV or playing xbox or 2) like picking up my guitar and just playing. Edel did the latter of those two things for me. If you have the chance to see him, do so, you will not regret it.