A music concert that I attended was entitled The Seven T’s at Seventy and was dedicated to the 70th birthday of Charles Ferguson, a lecturer at California Institute of the Arts, who was also a solo performer during the show. The concert took place on January 19, 2019, in the Campbell Recital Hall. The major instrument featured was guitar, and the repertoire included several classical compositions by Tárrega, Túrina, Tórroba, Tedesco, Tansman, Telemann, and Tchaikovsky.
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The pieces played by Ferguson were highly versatile in terms of genre and overall sound characteristics because the works he selected to perform came from different periods and cultural backgrounds. The composition by Telemann, Fantasia No. 6 Grave-Presto-Siciliana-Allegro in E Minor, especially stood out because it belongs to the late Baroque period. Thus, the melody in Telemann’s piece has an almost solemn quality it and a measured order of movement.
Even though Fantasia No. 6 was originally intended to be played on a violin, it is possible to say that Ferguson’s arrangement of this composition for a guitar not only successfully transferred its melodic qualities but also endowed it with greater sound depth.
Besides the piece by Telemann, Ferguson also adapted some piano compositions by Tchaikovsky (Autumn Song and selections from Album for the Young) and Tansman (Chant sans Parole and selections from Pour Les Enfants). The works by the latter composer and musician of Polish origin, who lived in the 20th century, have the French neoclassical style characteristics: clarity, emotional restraint, expanded tonality, exquisite balance, and so forth. At the same time, the works by Tchaikovsky, who lived in 19th century Russia, belong to the classical, romantic tradition, which is more emotional than neoclassicism and is associated with greater ambiguity of form.
Among Tchaikovsky’s pieces played during the concert, Autumn Song was particularly lyrical, whereas some selections from the Album for the Young, including March of the Wooden Soldiers and Baba Yaga, were more dynamic and fast-paced. Overall, Ferguson’s selection of Tchaikovsky’s works reflected the diversity of the composer’s talent to some extent. However, as a person who is accustomed to listening to Tchaikovsky’s short pieces played on a piano, I was not very fond of Ferguson’s versions. Nevertheless, I can give full credit to the performer for an impeccable, expressive, and sincere guitar play.
In my opinion, the pieces created by the Spanish composers Tárrega, Túrina, Tórroba, and the Italian composer, Tedesco, which Ferguson also chose to perform at his solo concert, were particularly successful. None of these prominent 20th-century composers had strictly defined style and their works frequently comprised the features of neoclassicism, impressionism, and Spanish folk.
For instance, Madroños incorporated some melodic qualities similar to traditional flamenco with frequent accents, a collection of ascending tones and pitches, and brisk rhythmic patterns. Along with other compositions performed by Ferguson, such as Burgalesa, Allegro con Spirito from Guitar Sonata in D Major, Adelita y Lágrima, Madroños was specifically designed to demonstrate the whole complexity of guitar techniques. Thus, with his immaculate skills, Ferguson delivered a top-notch listening experience to the audience when playing them.
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The Seven T’s at Seventy became one of the most enjoyable concerts that I have recently visited. I liked the overall selection of compositions included in the show. They were sufficiently diverse and, what is probably more important, perfectly performed. The overall organization of the concert was without a hitch as well. The performer communicated with the audience and conveyed all the necessary information. Thus, he managed to keep all music lovers who attended the concert properly entertained and engaged.