is pleased to present the twenty-fourth annual
Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival®
in cooperation with the fifth annual
James Stroud Classical Guitar Competition
hosted at and with support from the
Cleveland Institute of Music
June 6 - 9, 2024

Review: 10th annual Classical Guitar Weekend: Jason Vieaux at Kulas Hall (May 23, 2010) by Mike Telin

[One of] two of the most important annual American classical guitar events
(Classical Guitar Magazine)

Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Guitars International, in cooperation with the Cleveland Institute of Music, presented the 10th annual Classical Guitar Weekend. For the 2010 edition, the organizers once again put together a lineup of outstanding performers and clinicians including Daniel Lippel, Duo Melis (Susana Prieto and Alexis Muzurkis) as well as Nigel North, renaissance lute, and for the first time had a luthier included as part of the activities in the person of Italian master guitar maker, Andrea Tacchi, who also presented a lecture on the evolution of the classical guitar. As always, the weekend's program contained well-written scholarly program notes for each recital. If you were a performer or simply a lover of the classical guitar, this would be the weekend for you. And not surprisingly, an extremely large and enthusiastic audience descended upon CIM's Kulas Hall on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 for the final concert of the weekend given by the extraordinary master of the instrument, Jason Vieaux.

Vieaux, who is also head of CIM's guitar department, possesses that rare gift of appearing to be completely at ease both as a performer, but also in the relaxed manner in which he addresses the audience. Following the long welcoming applause, Vieaux wasted no time getting down to musical business as he began the afternoon with the Grand Overture, Op 61 of nineteenth century guitar virtuoso Mauro Giuliani. Producing a large rich tone, clean technique and a variety of colors, Jason Vieaux made this spritely piece a great recital opener. Prior to beginning the Lute Suite #3 in a minor BWV 995, Vieaux explained that this piece was actually an adaptation of an adaptation, as it first appeared as the 5th unaccompanied cello suite, and was later arranged for lute. Vieaux' approach, though rhythmically straightforward, clearly acknowledged that this was a series of dances. He filled them with musical nuance. The Sarabande was stunningly beautiful. Concluding the first half of the program was the lyrical Juila Florida and the lively Vals, Op. 8, No 3 of Agustin Barrios. Vieaux paced both of the short works beautifully.

Following intermission came the baroque suite inspired Quatre Pieces Breves by Swiss composer Frank Martin. In the hands of a lesser artist, this piece could easily become episodic, but Vieaux' technique allowed him to make the difficult shifts that the piece demands without every losing sight of the musical line. Cuban composer Leo Brouwer's programmatic work, El Decameron Negro is based on a West African tale about a warrior who is expelled from his tribe for wanting to play the harp instead of fighting. In the end everything works out, and he is welcomed back and permitted to play the harp. Vieaux told the story while demonstrating the series of Leitmotivs that represent the work's characters and events so well that while listening to his performance I found myself visualizing the action. The final piece on the program was "Sevilla" from the Suite Española of Isaac Albeniz. Upon conclusion, Vieaux was greeted with a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience, who refused to leave until they had heard one more piece. Returning to the stage with a guitar built by Andrea Tacchi, we were treated to Vieaux' own arrangement of Duke Ellington's In a Sentimental Mood, a perfect ending to a wonderful afternoon of music making.

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