FORT WORTH This movie ticket had strings attached.
Classical guitarist Mak Grgic presented a program primarily comprising selections from film scores in his recital at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art on Thursday, using his six strings to recall silver screen classics ranging from Raging Bull to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
But the performance, presented by the Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society, opened with a work by an obscure composer of the early Baroque period, G. Zamboni Romano, which was one of the few works on the bill without cinematic connections. His Allemanda & Sarabanda was a charming two-part work that displayed the Slovenian guitarist’s talents well. The only slight problem was that the gentle, dreamy allamanda was not the best choice for an opener. He might have been better off dropping it and going directly to the more spritely sarabande.
From there he moved into a program that would have needed a bucket of popcorn to be any more cinematic. The Spanish Dance No. 5 by Spanish composer Enrique Granados offered an interestingly different arrangement of a familiar work that had made an appearance in Pedro Almodovar’s Kika.
Another highlight of the concert’s first half was an even more familiar work, Isaac Albeniz’s Asturias, which made the cut by appearing in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This passionate, driving work makes frequent appearances at recitals such as this one, but never wears out its welcome. And Grgic did an excellent job of catering to the expectations of the audience while still make the piece his own.
The second half opened with another work not tied to a film: Bach’s incredible Chaconne from the Partita for Solo Violin No. 2. The longest piece on the program, this highly complex, 13-minute work is almost operatic in its structure. Employing a slightly darker-than-average tone, Grgic managed to clearly articulate the work’s many voices without getting lost in its daunting architecture.
This was followed by the unlikely choice of Grgic’s arrangement of a short medley of works by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Grgic said he felt the works by that contemporary composer made a good companion to the Bach that had gone before. Although the two pieces separated by better than three centuries did not contradict one another, the connections between them were more apparent to Grgic than to his audience.
“And now, the fun one,” Grgic said, before launching into a wonderfully clever arrangement of the main theme from Ennio Morriconi’s score for Sergio Leone’s legendary spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. His intro proved to be right on the money.
On the whole, Grgic was not as much of a technician as we often see at concerts such as this. The players are always good, but they are sometimes so perfect that the performance is a bit sterile. Not so with Grgic. He was more of a player than a guitar robot. He was not always note-perfect, but he always remained in close touch with the music (and not just the notes).
The 26-year-old guitarist also displayed an easy manner, natural sense of humor and winning personality when speaking to the crowd, as he often did, in accent-free English. And since he did communicate so comfortably and so well, it was unfortunate that he did not do a better job of explaining the theme of his program. Those conceptual issues were not addressed nearly so thoroughly as the music.
But, on the whole, you would have to give this concert a thumbs up.