Fabio Zanon's reputation guaranteed a full house at the Regis School of Music two weeks ago.
Billed as one of the world's greatest living guitarists, in a little under two hours Fabio demonstrated precisely why he deserves that ultimate accolade. Beyond technical skill, beyond stage presence Fabio has matured into a truly great interpreter of so many classical guitar pieces, his Villa Lobos studies the definitive version and many other composers works are given new life, new nuances and meanings in his increasingly intense performances.
Beginning with the 2 Byrd pieces with their delicate tones deftly woven Fabio followed with a major selection of Bach, some of the elements of the Partita in E major were more familiar than others but all were played with a certainty, strength and delicacy of touch that is the Zanon hallmark.
The first half finished with Music of Memory by Nicholas Maw, a stunningly modern piece, a tour de force of memory and technique and played with great passion and intensity. Not all in the audience found it easily absorbed but many delighted in such a display of pyrotechnics.
The second half found us all on more familiar ground beginning with the two Albeniz pieces, Zambra Granadina and Torre Bermeja. The Zambra is a dance of the Moors, of the Albaicin, the Moorish quarter of Granada and the Torre Bermeja of that city's Alhambra Palace, the magical home of the Moorish Caliphs that ruled Spain for nearly half a millennium and left such a strong imprint on the music of Spain.
Fabio's renditions of both were fiery, agile and with a richness of tone that perfectly evoked the colours, the sounds and perhaps even the smells of the Albaicin and Sacromonte, the gipsy quarter, both of which are on the opposite side of the gorge from the Alhambra.
The playing of the Mignone pieces perfectly illustrated Fabio's interpretative skills, his understanding of his countryman's music brought special insight to the five studies, they were, bright, spirited, pieces tango influenced at times, more contemplative at others but all played with relish.
A masterly performance from an acknowledged modern master of the guitar played in a venue that is probably about a tenth of the size of some of the concert halls Fabio now plays; we were lucky to be a part of such an intimate performance.