Creating delicately honed, lucid phrases from technically difficult, knotty passages presents a prodigious task for any musician. Guitarist William Kanengiser, who in recital at Ambassador Auditorium Monday night met this challenge over and over again with alarming success, has an amazing talent for this task.
In his own transcription of Mozart's Sonata in A for piano, K. 331, Kanengiser proved most convincingly this remarkable ability. With an intelligent Classical style that stately presented the opening Theme and Variations and finally romped through the familiar "Rondo alla Turca" with dizzying execution and celerity, Kanengiser nonchalantly kept matters under control, giving the music exceeding vitality and warmth.
Leo Brouwer's three-movement "El decameron negro" similarly displayed a comprehensiveness that brought the elusive tonal elements and odd passages together into an understandable whole. In the same composer's "Afro-Cuban Lullaby," given in encore, each singing morsel was relished with similar taut concentration and expertise.
"Sketches for Friends," a four-movement work by local composer Brian Head (born 1964), offered a pleasant tonal distraction with frequent striking dissonances added. Various pop styles from bluegrass to jazz were used as archetypes to form heavily sentimental, nostalgic music that charmed with its diverse influences, but at times lulled with its sparse originality.
Other transcriptions of Handel and Bartok keyboard pieces and another encore of the "Miller's Dance" from Falla's ballet "El sombrero de tres picos" provided more of the same fireworks. More traditional guitar works by Dionysio Aguado and Turina were also impressive, though given less stylistic consideration than ideal.