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Ana Vidovic DVD

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Ana Vidovic DVD

I think this is the third post I have put up on classical guitarist Ana Vidovic. The first one was on her Naxos CD which she made just after winning a major competition. That was twenty years ago! So, no longer a child prodigy or even a young artist. The second post, this one, was a brief look at two guitarists that were getting quite well known, her and Roland Dyens. I described him as "the world's best restaurant guitarist" which is a rather left-handed compliment. I gave Ana a good review, but with a slight caveat: "Ana Vidovic is a very fine player with loads of technique. Sometimes she misreads an accidental--I've noticed a couple in Moreno Torroba--but she is a young player and has room to grow as an artist. Well worth listening to now and in the future."

I'm afraid I am going to have to retract that last comment. She does not seem to have developed as an artist. Let's have a look at this clip from YouTube:

I just want to talk about the first piece, the three movements of the Suite Castellana by Moreno Torroba. This is a lovely piece that is not well-known in its full form, with all three movements. The reason for that is likely that Segovia only recorded the first two. Ana Vidovic's tendency to misread accidentals in Torroba (partly because there are some misprints in the published scores) returns here with a vengeance--there are a bunch of them in the Fandanguillo. If you either play this piece, as I do, or know the Segovia recording, you will be wincing several times. Another problem is the phrasing: she seems to just have the wrong instincts about where and how to use rubato. Another problem is the tuning once we get past the 40' mark the guitar sounds out of tune. More misread notes leading up to the worst musical phrase: the last pizzicato section taking us to the final chord is rhythmically weird and confused. The pizzicato isn't even very good and it is inconsistently applied.

She redeems herself with the Arada, the second movement, but it is nothing really special. The Danza is where things go horribly wrong. Honestly, if you want to know how this movement should sound you have to listen to Pepe Romero, he is the only one who "gets it." Vidovic plays the opening phase much too fast and leaves out a beat in the third iteration. Then she slams on the brakes for the middle section. The repeated note phrase that begins the movement and leads us back into the opening theme she delivers with absolutely no shape.

Two mysteries here: first, what is going wrong with Ana Vidovic? It now appears that she was never terribly gifted as a musician, but had considerable technical skills. She still has them, but is growing careless, especially about musical matters. I even hear a few sloppy places here and there. The other mystery is in the comments to this clip on YouTube:
No micro-mistakes wow... this is high-level virtuoso playing! Ana is truly a one in a million guitar player with outstanding memory, dexterity and musicality
Ana Vidovic has such a clarity and mastery of technique, my only regret is that I did not discover this great artist sooner.
This amazing artist brings a whole new level of sensitivity and a superb technique to these pieces. Beautiful to listen to and so calm and relaxing to watch.
Such beautiful playing - true artistry - letting the musicality of the peice ring out rather than playing too fast. Brilliant.
And hundreds more! What to think of that? Of course, I could simply be wrong about her. But I'm not. If you like I can consult the score and tell you exactly what notes she misreads and what beats she drops and what places she obviously phrases poorly. These things are not subjective. Mind you, you do have to know the piece and have played it for years. But I have long had this naive belief that real musicianship is always sensed by even non-professional listeners. And that they can also discern poor musicianship even though they may not be able to put what the problem is into words. I guess I was wrong about that...

Ok readers, time for you to weigh in.


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