INTERNATIONAL GUITAR NIGHT reviewed by Stanley Fefferman

November 11, 2006
Featuring Andrew White, Antoine Dufour, Peppino D’Agostino & Brian Gore
Presented by Smallworld Music at Harbourfront Centre Theatre

The audience that dropped in to hear this international forty-fingered guitar-picking tune-up had a turned on night all right. The four composer/virtuosos originating from the U.S, Canada, the U.K., and Italy, collaborated in a program of solos, duos and a quartet, whose silky-steely harmonies captured and enraptured the house.

Brian Gore, founder of the IGN tour, opened the show with the mellifluous ripple of a Castilian-influenced composition of his own punctuated with rhythmic taps and thumps on neck and body of his Frantisek Furch Stonebridge guitar. His smile, as brilliant as his playing, magnetized the audience. He followed up with a composition played in a tuning that just happened one day while the pegs of his guitar fell against furniture. Gore’s music has that kind of happy acceptance. And humour there is in “Dutch Crunch,” a rhythmic tune celebrating potato chips with strums sweeping from the bridge up the fingerboard alternating with percussive chords.

Brian introduced IGN’s newest member, Antoine Dufour, who was in the audience at IGN’s concert in Montreal last year, got an audition after the performance, and was invited onboard. A winner in 3 major fingerstyle guitar competitions, Antoine’s approach, somewhat formed under the influence of Don Ross, mixes rock with classical, funky groove with folk. His composition “Funky-Tonk” tells you even by the title about the bright energy Dufour adds to the show.

Andrew White, now from Nova Scotia, bounced in under a black pork-pie hat with a raggish composition, elegant in its simplicity. He followed that with the best song in the program up to that point, a quick-fingered piece based on a Celtic drone highlighted with harmonics that puts him in a class with Tommy Emmanuel and Tony McManus.

The personality of the night was Peppino D’Agostino. Peppino fulfilled his claim that the solo fingerstyle guitar is a mini-orchestra. He opened with “Beyond the Dune”, a Macedonian- inspired composition in 7/8 time that progressed by a chordal melody full of the passion and drama of the Eastern Mediterranean. He followed that with the best single composition of the evening, his ballad “Close to Heaven”, a delicate, lacy number sonorous with bell-like tones.

Peppino also pulled off the virtuosic feat of the night with his arrangement of Brazilian composer Edu Lobo’s “Porteo”. Peppino blends Afro rhythms with the percussive beat of Flamenco ‘zapateados’, zingy slide runs and sounds that mimic the berimbao, a percussion bow used in capoeira, the Brazilian sport combining martial arts and dance. This Peppino accomplishes by ‘in-mid-flight’ tuning of his bass E string down and down and down again for a bass line effect, till he’s ready to bring all back home in perfect tune. We also liked the number Peppino wrote for his duo with Andrew White–who once lived in New Zealand–thus the title, “Kiwis and Tomatoes”.

The audience, which was composed of a large contingent of guitarists, rewarded IGN with several standing ovations. But let us give the last word to an audience member who was at her first guitar concert. Subhadra Vijaykumar, an international concert artist on the Carnatic violin who teaches at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Mississauga Campus, had this to say:
Subhadra Vijaykumar: I have enjoyed it. I really like Andrew White the most. He is a mature player. He brings mastery to what he was playing. He had the audience very quiet for most of the time, which always is a sign that the playing is of a very high standard.

STM: What elements did you find in common with Indian music?
SV: I am a novice when it comes to playing the guitar, but it reminded me of good music. At times when I heard a phrase and heard it repeated, it would remind me of Indian music. Some series of notes and phrases, progressions and dynamics that they played are similar to Indian music

I also enjoyed the percussion. I had no idea, until I heard Brian Gore play his first number, that the guitar was capable of being a percussive instrument. In the end, he produced all kinds of remarkable sounds. I am looking forward to hearing more.


The entire show is recorded on the New International Guitar Night CD

Peppino D’Agostino
Antoine Dufour
Andrew White
Brian Gore

Smallworld Music
Subhadra Vijaykumar

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