Warm tones for summer

23:48, Nov 15 2011

It was perfect for a warm evening. If you closed your eyes, you could easily imagine being in a Spanish garden in summer.

In Monday night's performance, presented by the New Plymouth Classical Guitar Society, solo guitarist Cheryl Grice-Watterson took the enthusiastic audience to many imaginary landscapes in a wide-ranging and well-chosen programme.

St Andrew's Church was the ideal venue for this intimate recital, the unamplified guitar projecting its warm tones to all the rapt listeners.

Grice-Watterson has an impressive pedigree, having studied with John Williams and Julian Bream, and won several prestigious competitions in her early days. Now resident in New Zealand, she teaches and tours with the New Zealand Guitar Quartet, which she founded.

She has a wonderful relaxed style and formed an immediate rapport with the audience, introducing each piece with humour and candour.

We heard transcriptions of Scarlatti, Bach and Granados, and pieces by the Cuban composer Brouwer and Spanish Llobet.

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My personal favourite was Sakura by Yuquijiro Yocoh, a theme and variations on the old Japanese folksong. Grice-Watterson coaxed a huge range of tonal effects from her instrument, sometimes hauntingly beautiful, sometimes cutting, even mimicking a koto.

The second half was the most assured, with masterful renditions of the evocative La Catedrale by Barrios, and Asturias by Albeniz, depicting an oncoming rainstorm with cascades of notes.

The evening was rounded out with a lovely arrangement of the wistful Misty and the popular Lullaby of Birdland, and a cheerful Venezuelan waltz for an encore.

It was a wonderful evening's entertainment, and we left feeling soothed and uplifted, as if we had had a peaceful holiday.

Taranaki Daily News