‘As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill’s remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.’
'Concerto Primavera is Hill's Crowning Glory'
World premieres can so often be a let-down - musically inept or badly played, or both. So what a pleasure it was to be present this weekend at the classical high-spot of the Euro Wirral International Guitar Festival if Great Britain.
The new work was by Robin Hill, now celebrating his silver jubilee as a performer in partnership with Peter Wiltschinsky.
The four-movement Concerto Primavera for Guitar and Marimba featured Hill himself, Simone Rebello and the 20-strong Promontoire Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Ian Tracey.
I don't think I have ever heard a first performance where all the participants were so obviously enjoying themselves. The combination of guitar and marimba worked like a charm, and if Miss Rebello's near-ecstatic brilliance on the marimba was quite outstanding, this was because Hill, the composer had unselfishly written the piece that way.
The outer movements, both marked allegro vivo, are intensly and excitingly rhythmic, making Tracey's co-ordination of the complicated strands all the more praiseworthy.
Players, soloists and instruments were somewhat cramped on the small stage, and whilst this created an intimate atmosphere, it inevitably led to a lack of balance on occasions. Hill frequently uses percussion, notably a gong, in his score, and it would be instructive to hear the piece at a venue where both players and sound have rather more space.
In a highly-satisfying programme, Hill and Wiltschinsky combined with the orchestra in Vivaldi's G Major Concerto. Before the interval, unaccompanied, they had played two of their own works and pieces by Carulli, Sor, Mendelssohn - transcribed by Llobet - and the exciting Toccata, by Pierre Petit. After 25 years, their understanding is telepathic and their technique faultless.
'Your work is very good....you have my support and best wishes for continued creative growth, and for much pleasure from your music.'
'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous..'
Yesterday's School of Music Lunch-hour recital was one of the best we have heard for some time. Robin Hill's guitar playing was briliant, and he gave us a taste of many styles and periods of music.
The Bach included a Gavotte and a well-known Courante, and in the latter, Mr. Hill's chosen tempo left us breathless. It was fine work indeed.
H. Villa-Lobos Prelude No 1 suggested neoclassicism yet there was much sophistication in the work's construction. It contrasted nicely with Moreno-Torroba's simpler Sonatina in A and the excitement of 'Asturias' Leyenda, a piece in Spanish style by Albeniz.
This was a first performance by the quartet, consisting of Steve Wood, (Keyboards), Dave Lynane (Bass), Maurice Cheetham (Drums), and Robin Hill (Classical Guitar). Of course Robin Hill's reputation as a guitarist par excellence preceded him, but the quartet was an unknown quantity.
The Carulli, 'Sonata in A major Op 21' for guitar and piano was a lively and engaging piece to begin on. The musicianship was quickly established as first-class.
'Armando's Rhumba' by Chick Corea for the quartet followed, with its latin/jazz feel that had us all tapping our feet.
Vivaldi's justly famous, 'Concerto in D' followed. A harpsichord accompaniment gave the piece a new slant. It worked wonderfully well.
Dave Brubeck's, 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' was a fine example of interesting solos, unusual juxtaposition of time signatures and (I imagine) a great deal of rehearsing!
The best piece for me closed the first half. Robin Hill's, 'The Incredible Lightness of Being', had an 'up' feel which was compelling. The guitar's complex arpeggios played an important part, and the intriguing interplay between the four players was a joy to see and hear.
The second half was taken up entirely by Claude Bolling's seven movement, 'Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Trio'. I am firmly convinced that it is only the unusual line up that has stopped this piece being played more often. It was melodic, firmly entrenched in jazz, and contained a heady mixture of classical, Latin American and other styles too. I was left with the impression of a piece one must simply hear again. The playing throughout was impeccable. It was very demanding on them all and, for a first ever performance by the band, we had all experienced something remarkable.
'Robin's mastery of the guitar was breathtakingly evident when he attacked the complexity of 'Adagio', the second movement of Joaquin Rodrigo's, 'Concierto de Aranjuez'. The normally quiet Spanish staff, without exception leapt to their feet before the final note disappeared into the night air, with shouts of Ole and Bravo - a genuine testimonial for any guitarist performing in Spain.'
'Throughout the evening Robin performed numerous guitar pieces showing off just why he is a world class guitarist'.
First Class Homage to A Segovia - Ital-Cable Sistine Theatre Concert in Rome
Classical guitar enthusiasts were radiant on Sunday morning at the Sistine Theatre. The wonderful performance given by the British guitar duo Hill/Wiltschinsky was the excellent choice of Stefano Mazzonis. Artistic Director of Italcable, to pay homage to Andres Segovia through these talented young guitarists.
If it is true that no other guitarist in the world can ever compensate for the loss of the great Andres, it is a duty to remember him only with the best possible of concerts. With this in mind, the two British artists have all the right cards. Personally, I have the fondest of memories of the great guitarist: the last concert which Segovia gave in Italy was precisely five years ago at the Sistine Theatre.
The Maestro was by then ninety-two years old, his speed was not that of before, the sounds were weakened, but the touch... was still that of Segovia, clear, full of sun, priceless... he was the charismatic myth of the guitar, and this was enough for the concert to go down in history.
Wonderful for their precision, touch and clarity of sound, these British artists spanned a period of time from the Elizabethans to Manuel de Falla.
They did not omit the glorious tradition of the Italian Guitar, playing at break-neck speed the 'Variazioni Concertanti' op. 135 by Mauro Giuliani as well as the transcription by the same of Rossini's 'Barber of Seville' Overture.
An infinity of emotions through the exploration of all the possibilities of the instrument, a laboratory of virtuosity, with the maturity of perfectly polished musicians. No tight-rope walking but refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.
With the performance of the works of Sor and Falla, the splendour of the repertoire of the two guitarists shone still more. All the ranges of sound of the instrument took a rich, rounded and authoratative tone.
In such a wonderful crucible of guitar artistry, there had to be a superb encore. It was 'La Tarantella' from the 'Suite Italiana' by Mario Gangi, who, seated next to me, was hardly able to hide his satisfaction for the lovely performance.
The audience was warm, the success was great....
The brilliance of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya set standards of duo guitar playing that have seldom been equalled. The form is a difficult one. Accuracy and precision are of course prime essentials, but the best duos are welded together by something more: a unity of purpose, a spirit of excitement and even adventure, an ability not only to play as one instrument but also to think as one musician.
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky, on the evidence of this recording, have that rare capacity. Their performances are alive, zestful, invigorating. It will make new friends for their exuberant playing, and new friends too for the guitar duo form, in which so much can be accomplished.
Some of the pieces are familiar; some not so familiar, though they deserve to be. All are hugely enjoyable. Hill and Wiltschinsky demonstrate their very wide range by adapting their style successfully to every new requirement, from the English lute tradtion of John Johnson to the 20th century French composer Pierre Petit. The Bach Invention that opens the recital could scarcely have been better chosen; light, airy, fast, it nourishes as it dazzles - perfection in 44 seconds (but length is never a prerequisite of great music). And has the Queen of Sheba ever made so exhilarating an arrival?
It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to introduce this remarkable record - as much pleasure as I think it is going to give those who listen to it.
Thinking Guitarists Achieve Pure Magic
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky - the best guitar duo in the business, one which thinks, as well as plays, together gave a magical recital for Tickhill Music Society.
It was notable for precision of ensemble and astonishingly clean technique.
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky, The Art of Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky
This double-CD set, recorded in 1988 and '89, has just become available in America. In its 103 minutes of music, England's premier guitar duo covers wide stylistic territory, ranging from Baroque (Bach, Handel, Scarlatti) to recent works by Petit, Gangi and Absil. Throughout, Hill and Wiltschinsky display daunting technique and ensemble. A Spanish 'Jota' showcases blazing scale work, variations by Giuliani and Sor are arpeggio workouts, and Tarrega's, 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra', features a unique harmonized tremolo. (Teldec/Elektra)
Still unrivalled in their position as Britain's most brilliant and enterprising guitar duo, Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky returned to the Manchester Guitar Circle with a programme of old favourites alongside some new compositions, including a world premiere.
Starting with four Elizabethan lute duets, the pair made their individual mark on these delicate miniatures in the form of copious ornamentation, including some perfectly synchronised trills.
Carulli's 'Largo and Rondo in G' is a cheerful work whose long standing popularity is fully deserved. Delivered in a suitably playful spirit tonight, 'Largo and Rondo' will always remain a work to which every amateur guitar duo aspires.
Original composition is an activity to which the Hill/Wiltschinsky Duo have been increasingly drawn in recent years. Peter Wiltschinsky's 'Nocturne and Danza' is a pair of contrasting works, the first of which was inspired by the music of Tarrega. Strong in both melody and harmony, the 'Nocturne' finally gives way to the hectic Latin American rhythms of the 'Danza' - a superbly-crafted movement which exploits the duo's technical excellence to the full.
Mario Gangi's 'Suite Spagnola', which the duo rescued from obscurity a decade ago, started life in the late 1940's. Always a skillful and inventive piece of writing, the Hill/Wiltschinsky Duo have developed 'Suite Spagnola' into a tour de force. After tonight's breathtaking performance, one can only speculate as to why so few pairs have adopted this still under-rated work.
Far from under-rated is the 'Variazioni Concertanti Op. 130' by Giuliani - 8 minutes of wind and waffle kept alive only by the composer's unfailing ability to dazzle the audience with fingerboard acrobatics. Both players homed in on this one saving grace tonight, and the performance was a success.
In stark contrast to the Giuliani, the first half ended with the refined Gallic wit of the 'Toccata' by Pierre Petit - an intriguing work in which technical virtuosity is just one of the many features.
After the interval, the 'Sonata in D' by Scheidler - a succinct work from the late 18th Century - provided a pleasing warm up to the 'Two Sonatas' by Scarlatti. The second of these - K.141 - is centred on a rapid repeated note figure and is the perfect vehicle for Robin Hill's remarkable thumb-and-finger right hand technique.
Twentieth Century sophistication came in the form of the 'Schottisch' and 'Corta Jaca' from Gnattali's 'Retratos - a work which dates back to 1957 but which somehow seems to anticipate the jazz-rock idiom of the 1970's.
In a bold piece of programme planning, the Gnattali was followed by Robin Hill's 'Three Studies', the first of which was being presented in public for the first time. The quality of Hill's writing may be illustrated by the fact that the three studies were in no way dwarfed by their proximity to the Gnattali. From the brief opening piece, whose three-note figures resemble the rhythm of a tarantella, to the chromatic scales of the gigue-like finale, Hill showed himself to be a composer whose work can stand comparison with the best - a comment which only rarely applies to a writer whose main activity is performing.
The 'Three Dances' by Falla which concluded the offical programme were almost orchestral in scope, the rumbling trills in the 'Ritual Fire Dance' provoking audible gasps of disbelief. Anyone who thinks Falla on the guitar doesn't work should hear these arrangements and think again.
Two encores were demanded and duly provided, Peter Wiltschinsky's exquisite setting of 'Eleanor Rigby' proving to be yet another delightful addition to the duo's repertoire.
In these days of economic gloom the music of the Hill/Wiltschinsky Duo is one British product we can still view with pride.
‘There’s nothing they (Hill & Wiltschinsky ) can’t play. The whole evening constituted a breath of stimulating fresh air in a scene where so many duos simply lack the technical equipment to make it to the big time. From Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky anything is possible.’