Morgan Szymanski May 2004

Morgan Szymanski at Greenwood Centre 2004

Reviewing his concert at The Royal College of Music in January, I wrote: “If you haven’t heard him yet - don’t delay.” On Saturday night over fifty people got the chance to here the talent of Morgan playing for us in the intimate surroundings of the Greenwood Centre and I certainly got the impression that I was not alone in praising this young man.

The concert opened with the haunting harmonics and tremolos of Alec Roth’s The Unicorn in the Garden; together with both of my immediate neighbours this was, for me, the highlight of the first half. In my last review I praised this young man’s left hand technique whereas in this piece I realised that the right hand was just as good.

The first half was completed by the Ponce Suite in the style of Bach. Morgan introduced this to us as a piece commissioned by Segovia who apparently wanted a piece in the style of Bach but was unable to improvise himself. If I had to be super critical I found the tone in the first three movements a little too soft and mellow for my personal taste but, apart from this, the essence of Bach in a different hand shone out like a beacon. Once the fourth movement started the variety of tone was used to the full with some wonderful harsh tones set against mellow ones. This movement could have been Bach’s and Bach’s alone.

After the interval we were treated to a piece called Summer in the Forest which had Moorish and Flamenco overtones before suggesting Jazz rhythms. This was followed by Creole Waltz written by Lauro for his daughter which turned out to be one of those pieces we all know but can’t quite put a name to.

Then – for many the treat of the evening - we had two of the most popular pieces in the solo guitar repertoire. Albeniz’s Legend of Asturias with its superb tremolo and haunting under melody brought very much to the fore by this young man until we were transported into the wonderful and haunting second part. With a superb change of tonal quality the reprise of the first tremolo theme brought the piece to a wonderful conclusion.

Tarrega’s Recuerdos d lal Alhambra requires no introduction except to say that the two times I heard Segovia play it he saved it for the encores not wanting to lay himself open until he was sure he had won the audience. Whether as the bravery of youth or an unflinching self-belief we had it here as part of the main concert, and what a delight it was. The technique of this young man combined with the acoustic of the hall brought out the tremolo tune more than any previous performance I have heard.

To finish we had a lively performance of a piece by Bellinata that had superb Brazilian tunes in the upper and lower register and some lovely bell like sounds finishing with a solo percussion movement on the guitar.

Did I say that was the end? It was due to be but we had a superb encore of Barrios's An Alm for the love of God. I said earlier that the Roth was, for me, the highlight of the first half. However, this final piece was the highlight of the whole evening and the sight of so many smiling faces leaving the Centre confirmed that this man has a future.

In ending I was fascinated by the name Morgan Szymanski when he claims to be Mexican. The answer is simple - his father is Russian and his mother Scottish.