The London Flamenco Festival — Vicente Amigo!


Calm and centred as always, the gifted guitarist Vicente Amigo launched London’s Flamenco Festival last night. Together  with a a small team of percussionists, singers and a dancer, Amigo offered the packed theatre a panoply of flamenco palos with the melodic grace that has come to be his signature style. Amigo’s guitar is strong and gentle, faultless at all times. He plays the most complex of pieces with apparent ease, as if it were a kite lifted by the air. Grace, style, gentleness, skill… Vicente Amigo really does know how to bring them all together.

Amigo is a guitarist who rose to fame in the 1990s, a time when Spain had made the transition to democracy and had established itself as both modern and distinct, yet totally stylish, on the European scene. Amigo’s guitar reflects those times. He takes the traditional palos and moulds them, easing them out of the grip of tradition without ever losing their moorings, so that a tangos or a bulería remain recognizable but are lifted to new heights. Last night, he was aided by a gifted team, the voice of the singer Rafael de Utrera floating above the guitar. The young dancer Dani Navarro was, as the lady sitting next to me said, ‘very cool’ in his rendering of bulerías. To make what is difficult and complicated appear calm, gentle and graceful is what Vicente Amigo always does.

Music has a way of taking us back to the places and times that we associate with it. Last night, Amigo’s guitar took me back to the place where I had heard his music first: a small bar on Calle de Moratín in Madrid, in the artistic barrio de letras, where, in true flamenco style. it spills over on to the more gritty Lavapiés. That must have been back in the early 1990s… I remember being there, rooted to the spot, in the grip of a guitar that spread from the speaker into the soul, over and above the clatter of glasses, tapas and conversations in that busy Madrid bar.

February 8, 2012 Post Under General - Read More

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