A couple of Sundays ago I went to a concert by the Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas. The first piece was the Prelude No. 1 of Heitor Villa-Lobos. I'm hoping that most people who read this blog are not overly familiar with it. It's so widely played that I suspect classical guitar fans are tired of it. But it is a really lovely piece, and Villegas played it beautifully. I didn't find it on YouTube, but here it is by Julian Bream. Some would say Bream is not at his best in this kind of music--too cool, too restrained--but I like his precision and delicacy.
Not to neglect Villegas, here he is, with another very well-known piece, Tárrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra). That rapid picking that carries the melody line is very hard to do at all, and unbelievably hard to sustain smoothly and evenly for very long. So guitarists tend to make this a show-off piece, but Villegas isn't doing that here: he's very modest, and is enough of a virtuoso to let the piece sing, and let the listener forget the virtuosity. He played this for his encore Sunday, but unfortunately I missed it because I had to duck out as soon as the last piece on the program was finished, in order to get to Mass. So I'm glad to have this.