Cleveland Classical Guitar Society International Series Presents Vladimir Gorbach This Saturday

By Mike Telin

On Saturday, April 11 at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society will present the final concert of this season’s International Series with a performance by Vladimir Gorbach. “I’m really looking forward to the concert and getting to know Cleveland,” the Russian-born guitarist said during a telephone conversation from Los Angeles. “After winning the 2011 Guitar Foundation of America competition, I did perform in Ohio as part of the winner’s tour, but this will be my first time in Cleveland.” Gorbach’s debut performance will feature works by Miguel Llobet, Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, Dionisio Aguado, Ástor Piazzolla, and Alberto Ginastera. A special pre-concert performance by students from CCGS's education program will begin at 6:50.

I began our conversation by asking Vladimir Gorbach to say a few words about his program.

Miguel Llobet’s Variaciones sobre un tema de Fernando Sor: “This is one of the most popular themes ever. The tema is an old Spanish/Portuguese sarabande, and during the 1700s composer-players like Mauro Guilliani would write variations on it. But as the new century came along, Llobet and other players thought these pieces weren’t challenging enough so they began to write their own, which are more diverse in color and virtuosity. I’m sure that Llobet played Sor’s version in his own concerts, but Llobet was kind of like Stravinsky, who said, ‘I like the musical idea, but I would do it this way.’ In fact the theme and the first three variations in this piece are Sor’s, but the rest are by Llobet.”

Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonatas K. 239, 87 and 27: “Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas have always been an inspiration for guitarists. He spent the majority of his life in Spain, and was one of the pioneers of folk and Spanish flamenco music. But the diversity of his sonatas and the specifics of the keyboard instruments of that time enable guitarists to make very nice arrangements of them. They’re short and usually played in sets. I’ve chosen to use the fast-slow-fast approach, so the three sonatas will work like a multi-movement piece.”

Are these Gorbach's own arrangements? “I took the Llobet path. I first used someone else’s arrangements but I changed things around a little, so they feel like they’re mine. The arrangement of the first one, K. 239, is by David Russell. It’s very nicely arranged so I didn’t touch a thing.”

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