Samson of Biblical fame, a major strength of this new recording
by Brazilian guitarist Aliéksey Vianna is also its key weakness.
his debut recording Aliéksey Vianna has taken a “calculated
risk”, selecting a programme of relatively unknown and unrecorded
original works for guitar, all by one composer. Given the
limited guitar repertory and the inevitability of recurring
“work horses”, the programme initiatives taken here are laudable;
therein lies a major strength of this new release.
Assad is best known for his partnership with brother Odair
as a guitar duo. In the same vein as Alexander Lagoya of Presti/Lagoya
fame, Sergio Assad arranges music for duet guitars; he also
writes original music for that format. His original compositions
for solo guitar are less known and recorded.
Aliéksey Vianna proposed to Sergio Assad that he record some
of his solo works for guitar, the latter was surprised that
they could fill a whole CD. Presented on this disc are ten
different compositions totalling fourteen tracks.
1988 Sergio Assad completed his first piece for solo guitar,
Aquarelle [1-3] This is based on a three-note motif
explored through diverse expansions of the original proto-cell.
years later he returned to composing solo guitar works and
completed Fantasia Carioca . Originally conceived
as an orchestral work, later this was adapted for duet and
solo guitar. The main theme is constantly re-worked into different
shapes and colours capturing the rich atmosphere of Rio
1995 Jobiniana No. 3  was written and belongs to
a series of works dedicated to the master of Brazilian music,
Antonio Carlos Jobim. It is the development of his famous
for Sergio Assad’s students at the Royal Conservatoire in
Belgium, the Three Divertimentos [4-6] were composed in 1996.
years later the Sonata [8-10] was written as a commission
for the Japanese magazine Gendai Guitar. This piece follows
the structure of a classical sonata and is written in multiple
layers, sounding very similar to a guitar duet.
2000 the Three Greek Letters [11-13] were written as
a private commission, dedicated to the great Greek guitarist
Antigoni Goni. These pieces are not based on Greek music but
pay homage to the Greek culture and civilization. To avoid
any traditional Brazilian influence, these pieces are devoid
well written and enjoyable as some of these pieces are, one
is left with the impression that individually they would be
better served by sharing the programme with music by another
composer or composers. Be it recorded or in live concert,
the construction of a well-balanced programme is a challenge
for any musician. It not only involves artistic and musical
considerations but is also very much a marketing exercise;
not every composer is well suited to serve a totally dominant
role. Having learned the important difference between entertaining
and just performing well, many less qualified musicians and
singers have succeeded over their superior counterparts.
addition to their musical value, some of the pieces on this
disc undoubtedly also have didactic virtues. This may in part
explain the enthusiastic accolades of Mr Vianna who states
“For many years Sergio Assad’s music has played a fundamental
role in my growth as a musician”.
live concert comprising the identical programme found on this
disc would require significant perseverance on the part of
this writer to be present for the encores. Therein lies a
Vianna was born in Belo Horizonte,
Brazil in 1975. After initial guitar studies
during his teenage years, using a scholarship, he later studied
at the University of Arizona with Thomas Patterson. He continued at the San Francisco Conservatory
with David Tanenbaum, graduating in 2001. The list of his
successes in major guitar competitions is extensive.
Mr. Vianna exhibits all the technical skills of a virtuoso,
he is first and foremost a fine musician with a repertoire
that encompasses jazz and music of his native Brazil. He has performed globally with orchestras,
string quartets and other ensembles.
the review disc Vianna demonstrates strong understanding and
empathy for the music and this is never compromised because
his technical command is so robust. As one may anticipate
he conveys a sense of enjoyment associated with music for
which he holds such a high regard.
of the classical guitar, particularly those who play, are
always keen to know the maker of the instrument used on a
particular recording. The American luthier David Daily (b.1950)
the fine instrument used on this disc. Many younger guitarists
are opting for the “new breed” of instruments that are very
loud but frequently have a rather strident and cold sound.
Tonally this instrument is the antithesis of that modern tendency;
it has a beautiful, warm and endearing sound. We should not
be surprised to learn that Daily spent time with Antonio Marin
Montero one the most famous and revered luthiers of Granada.
new release is definitely recommended listening but with one
caveat - in smallish doses.