Review by Andrew Hull
"Aliéksey Vianna is a very talented musician - fully dedicated to his work and greatly committed to his art. He has put a lot of energy into this project and we can all feel the reward. I'm pleased to have my entire solo guitar production to this date, represented here by him and I hope to write more solo pieces in the future."
-Sérgio Assad (from the liner notes)
For more information about Aliéksey Viena to www.aliekseyvianna.com
Alieksey Vianna is at once passionate and cool - like the best of jazz musicians. The instrument never leaves his control, but one feels that if he let his guard down for one moment something quite terrifying might happen. This quiet, restrained but roiling power permeates every second of his recording of Sergio Assad's music.
Having seen him perform the Aquarelle on many occasions, it was great joy to find his performance captured here. It is in his Aquarelle, surprisingly, that one sees him at his most sensitive. In the second movement some players (I include myself here) affect a maudlin tone - but not Vianna - with a mastery of tempo, one which the finest performers exhibit in their slowest performances., we hear a simple piece, played simply perfectly.
The difficulty in Assad's music lies in its perpetual motion, an element which often obscures its musical depth. Vianna's masterful interpretation of the Sonata, which serves as the most complex performance on the disc, shows how essential a deep interpretation can be. Without Vianna's clear characterization of the mordant figures, harmonic-laden, chordal themes and Vivaldi-esque closing figures - these three movements might sound hopelessly episodic. On close examination, they clearly are not and through Vianna's prism one can see the constituent colors of a remarkable piece.
Though the disc often wanders, as in the Fantasia Carioca and Jobiniana No. 3 (the latter felt like a Brazilian Rossiniana - in all respects), one can't fault either player or composer for indulging a bit too much in atmosphere, especially when it is created so completely and executed so attentively.
To put it simply - you will find no more passionate or perfect performance of Assad's solo music anywhere.
A word about the compositional generation:
Of the generation of composers that defined the 'guitar composer' ethos - names like Bogdanovic, Dyens, York and Rak - none have had the breadth of crossover appeal garnered by Sergio Assad. The generation of these composers, surely transitional, seemed to be defined by where they drew their inspirations. For the most part, these composers came from traditional backgrounds but deviated from traditional repertoire or even rebelled against it by infusing their style with the voice of another - jazz, rock, bossa. Some might venture that what we hear is actually a generation that defined itself by the way in which it struck off from the traditional path. One surely must admit that they were not the leaders of crusades with legions following them into their new musical territory but rather hermits carving out their own space in a forest overgrown by the Spanish tradition. It seems that the romantic ideal of an artist separate from the world, has been achieved as opposed to the turn-of-century nationalists eager to foment revolution.
The compositions themselves owe their genesis to the stylized dances of Bach - themselves written to be the closing door of a style. The application of compositional techniques to the popular music of the time ultimately shows that the styles and techniques themselves have run out of material and must feed on the raw flesh of popular styles in order to survive. Like a fifty-year old leading man dating his twenty-year old co-star, we have created an odd marriage of styles and one wonders how long it can last before these compositional techniques are truly retired. Granted, Picasso fathered children late in his life, but like Bach, his children never measured up to the master himself.
One wonders, at the closing of this era, from where the next, new music will come.