Pepe Romero, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Artyom Dervoed, and Others Shine at 14th Moscow Guitar Festival; Watch Highlights!

L to R: Pepe Romero, Artyom Dervoed, Thibaut Garcia, Shin-Ichi Fukuda and Moscow orchestra. :Photo: Evgeny Evtyukhov

Held March 20–24, the 14th Guitar Virtuosi Moscow International Festival at the beautiful Tchaikovsky Concert Hall proved to be a sensational showcase for the instruments by some of the finest players in the world, both young and… well, less young. Among the guitarists performing were Pepe Romero (Spain/USA), Shin-Ichi Fukuda (Japan), Flavio Sala (Italy), Thibaut Garcia (France), and festival Artistic Director Artyom Dervoed (Russia). As you might expect from such a range of guitarists, there were performances of pieces spanning from the Baroque to the modern, including several rarities. All four concerts were broadcast live via the internet, a trend that seems to be increasing with each passing year—a great development!

The first night, March 20, featured the guitar-with-orchestra (Russia’s Svetlanov State Symphony) and featured Shin-Ichi Fukuda performing a rarely played Toru Takemitsu piece called Vers, L’Arc-en-ciel, Palma, written for guitar, oboe d’amore, and orchestra (and premiered by John Williams in 1984). Artyom Dervoed premiered his transcription of Chinese composer Tan-Dun’s Nu Shu: Secret Songs for Women, a fascinating piece inspired by a secret code-language among women in Hunan province, written for harp and orchestra (he calls the harp “the most feminine and most beautiful instrument”), and accompanied by 13 very short films shot by Tan Dun himself. It’s quite a complex harp part, So Dervoed really had his work cut out for him transposing it to guitar! It also features some percussive slaps on the bowls of water; an intriguing effect. Pepe Romero performed Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez; and young Thibaut Garcia played the Concerto in E minor, Op. 140 by Carulli.

The following night, March 22, included solo sets by Dervoed featuring pieces by Scarlatti, Legnani, Paganini (a co-transcription by the guitarist of a piece called La Campanella) and Kevin Callahan’s The Possessed,which was dedicated to Dervoed; then a program from Romero of works by Mertz, Granados, Malats, Rodrigo, Turina, and Pepe’s papa, Celedonio Romero.

A view of Tchaikovsky Concert Hall

On March 23, Garcia opened the festivities with selections from the repertoire he’s been playing around the world since his victory at at the Guitar Foundation of America convention a couple of years ago (Bach, Barrios, Tansman, Piazzolla); next came a set of what was billed 12 “popular music arrangements for classical guitar” by Sala—a selection of songs by everyone from rockers Eric Clapton, Queen, Michael Jackson, and Carlos Santana, to Ennio Morricone, Hanz Zimmer, and Carlos Gardel

The closing night gala March 24 featured each of the previously featured guitarists, plus Serbian guitarist Vojin Kocic, and a number of guest musicians and a string quartet, in a nice variety of different chamber settings, as well as some solo guitar numbers.

Enjoy these three nicely edited mini-documentaries the festival passed along to us, showing some of the highlights as well as lots of behind the scenes rehearsal footage and interviews (with English subtitles, where needed). Looks like it was quite a fantastic affair! —Blair Jackson

DAY TWO: Opening and guitar with orchestra

DAY THREE: Artyom Dervoed, Pepe Romero solo

DAY FOUR: Closing gala (solo guitar and chamber works)

Here are some close-up performance photos by Stanislav Timokhin:

Pepe Romero performs Rodrigo’s ‘Aranjuez’
Artyom Dervoed and conductor Valentin Uryupin
Shin-Ichi Fukuda
Thibaut Garcia