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Monday, July 27, 2020

Various Composers - Ana Vidović's Guitar Recital


  • (01) Johann Sebastian Bach - Partita in E major, BWV 1006a (transcr. Valter Dešpalj)
  • (07) Manuel Ponce - Sonata romántica (Homage to F. Schubert)
  • (11) Francisco Tárrega - Danza mora, Capricho árabe & Vals
  • (14) Stjepan Šulek - The Troubadours Three
  • (17) William Walton - Five Bagatelles

Ana Vidović, guitar
Date: 2000
Label: Naxos



First Prize winner of the Tarrega competition in Spain in 1998 at the age of 18 was Croatian guitarist Ana Vidovic. To comment on an international competition winner's technique seems a bit unnecessary - of course it's fabulous. The Prelude to the E-major Lute Suite is not only one of the fastest I've ever heard; it's also one of the cleanest and most perfectly shaped. And right at the pots where many guitarists are trying to decide which bass notes can be most inconspicuously sacrificed to make the whole thing a bit more playable, Vidovic actually adds basses. Did say her playing was extraordinary? Scratch that - it's extraterrestrial.

That this is a 'competition program' is evidenced not only by the presence of usual suspects like the Walton Bagatelles and the Fourth Lute Suite, but also by Vidovic's breathtaking tempos in all of the pieces. It is the kind of playing that is calculated to make jaded judges sit up and listen. But more remarkable than the hair-raising speeds is Vidovic's uncanny ability to play this way without sacrificing tone or shape. Lute Suite 4 is astonishingly lithe, elegant, and tasteful - Bach has rarely sounded this commanding on the guitar. The Walton is also brilliantly executed, though by this point in the program, we've come to expect such virtuosity.

And this is of course the major problem with Vidovic's playing: even if it can be done without seriously damaging the music, playing at such speeds is simply not necessary in every piece: over the course of a whole program it begins to wear on the listener. Ponce's Schubert pastiche, the Sonata Romantica, is one notable casualty - it sounds decidedly un-Schubertian at these speeds. For all of the wonderful phrasing and tone, the tempo of I makes for a perfunctory, somewhat shallow overall effect. II is also slightly hurried; Vidovic doesn't seem to revel in its lushness enough. III is marked allegretto vivo, but does it really have to be this vivo?

Vidovic has developed a playing style that wins competitions, and it will certainly strike fear into the hearts of even the most grizzled competition veterans. But it is safe to say at this point that she does not need to enter any more - with the right representation she could have an international career as big as anyone's. Perhaps when she learns this as well, we will really begin to see what kinds of marvels her incredible musicianship can deliver in its maturity.

-- Stevens Rings, American Record Guide


Ana Vidović (born 8 November 1980, Karlovac, SR Croatia) is a Croatian classical guitarist. At 13, she attended the Academy of Music in Zagreb, where she studied with Istvan Romer. She also studied at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, U.S., with Manuel Barrueco. Vidović has won an impressive number of prizes at international competitions all over the world, including first prizes at the Fernando Sor and Francisco Tárrega competitions. She has released 6 CDs published by Croatia Records, BGS, and Naxos, as well as 2 DVDs published by Mel Bay publications. Vidović plays a Jim Redgate guitar.


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