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Concert Review: Cleveland International Guitar Festival 2015

Antonis Hatzinikolaou (Sunday, May 31 at 2:30 pm) by Jeremy Reynolds

At the end of the first work on his Sunday afternoon program of 20th-century guitar music — “The Old Oak” from Konstantin Vassiliev’s Three Forest Paintings, Guitarist Antonis Hatzinikolaou (Greece) — shuddered passionately, using his entire body to help vibrate the final chord as it died away.

From Igor Stravinsky’s contemplative Elegy to Manuel de Falla’s exotic dirge, Homenaje (pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy), Hatzinikolaou played with conviction, alternating between relaxed elegance and fiery vigor. In Nicholas Maw’s Music of Memory — the longest work on the program — Hatzinikolaou delivered the passionate, improvisatory sections with the same care as the refined quotations from Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13.

Easily the highlight of the afternoon, Joaquin Rodrigo’s Sonata Giocosa allowed Hatzinikolaou to demonstrate a less dignified, more lighthearted exuberance. He smiled slightly, racing through the jocular passages with assurance.

Before sitting again to perform an encore, a choked up Hatzinikolaou told his audience: “I’m a little bit emotional … I hope you’ll excuse me.” He explained that this was his first performance in the United States. “I’m going to play you a very nice largo I heard recently. I hope I remember it well enough to finish!” At the delicate final cadence, his audience was again on its feet, giving Hatzinikolaou a very warm welcome to the States indeed.

www.guitarsint.com

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