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Review: Classical guitarist’s program brilliantly displays her talents

Posted 11:55pm on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013

She saved the best for last.

The Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society opened its 2013-14 season with a recital by Xeufei Yang at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on Thursday night. Her sprawling program covered more than three centuries and about every trick any classical guitarist could have in her bag.

Yang, a native of China, now lives in Britain. The first half of her concert began in the late Renaissance period, in a sense, with Yang’s own arrangements of dances from British composer Benjamin Britten’s opera Gloriana, which is set in Elizabethan times. Those works ranged from ancient to modern in tone, but all were impressively structured and performed.

This was followed by another operatic work, Spanish composer Fernando Sor’s Variations on a Theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute, which gave a slightly Latin flavor to one of the noted Austrian’s delightful melodies. It was also a nice setup for two works by Isaac Albeniz, his Tango and Sevilla, which were also arranged by Yang.

But as tasty, and nicely varied, as the first half was, it paled in comparison with what followed intermission.

Yang resumed her concert with J.S. Bach’s magnificent Chaconne from his Partita for Solo Violin No. 2. This work is a 13-minute Everest for most musicians, but Yang scaled it with ease while carefully articulating all its contrasting voices and astonishing twists and turns.

The real icing on this six-string cake, however, was the concert’s concluding work, the Suite del Recuerdo by contemporary Argentinian composer Jose Luis Merlin. The multipart piece, inspired by the composer’s longing for his homeland, was like a ride across the Pampas. You could almost see the home Merlin missed so badly as Yang moved effortlessly through all the captivating colors and moods of the piece, which was graced with stylistic swings from Latin dances to moments of Impressionistic reflection.

On the whole, Yang’s most apparent gift was an incredibly clean and agile technique. And she got the Guitar Society’s season off to a fabulous start by selecting highly appealing works that showcased her talents beautifully.

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