gave an afternoon performance at the GFA conference. It is the first time I have seen her perform live although I have seen several videos of her performances on You Tube (which are all excellent). I must say first off that Ana is a stunningly beautiful women with a charming smile and a graceful manor. It is hard (at least for this male) not to enjoy a concert performed by such a good specimen of classical guitar player and the fact that she has outstanding technique and as a result makes playing the guitar look easy is just icing on the cake!
Now if you want to hear a nearly flawless performance of Leyenda, I don't think you can do any better than Ana's. Near perfect rhythmic precision at a good tempo, that's the big thing about performing it, and this performance at the GFA was flawless from my point of view. It was interesting to consider the difference between this performance and the one Pepe Romero gave in the opening concert. There were certainly aspects of Pepe's version that reflected a very mature and insightful approach, but technically Ana's performance was the best!
Another piece in the program was a new work written for Ana by a guitarist. It was a tremolo piece and afterward Ana said that it reminded her of the seashore near her home in Croatia. The interesting thing about this is that Ana plays the tremolo technique in a somewhat unorthodox way of using only the thumb with i
fingers. However, in terms of clear and precise tremolo notes, her method was quite excellent.
The last composition on the program was one of my favorites from the Segovia literature. The Sonata by Castilnuvo-Tedesco. This is a piece I have always enjoyed listening to both the Segovia recording and the one by John Williams. Now this piece requires several changes in tuning with both the low E and A strings and due to the length of movements, the strings can go out of tune a little bit before the finish. I thought the sharpening of the low D in the final movement actually added some enjoyable tension to the performance. It sounded great!
Now here's something I wanted to talk about a bit in this post. Ana's technique is unique because of her a
finger which is weak. But all of us have weak a
fingers don't we? It's smaller than i
and the nail is shaped differently as well as the finger moves in a slightly different direction.But Ana has chosen to develop a technique that maximizes the two primary fingers (their strengths) and minimize the weakness of her a
finger! I think this is ingenious and there's much for me to learn from it.
One of the things I begin to think about after seeing Ana play is simply, why should I spend a lot of time trying to get the a
finger to have the same (or close to the same) facility as the i
fingers? Let the two primary fingers be good at what they do. Develop them to their full potential. Use the a
finger sparingly as a supporting player for the other two fingers.
One very interesting thing about Ana's technique is that she plays tremolo with just i
. That is, a four note tremolo would be fingered, p
. This is an example of maximizing the strengths of these two fingers. She certainly has a tremolo which is reliable and rhythmically precise. And it is also pretty. But although It may be a useful exercise to play a tremolo piece like this, I don't feel compelled to emulate Ana's tremolo at this point. I did notice that there is a difference in the tonal quality of her tremolo. It's not that it was necessarily bad but I think I still prefer the sound of a well developed three finger tremolo. There is something about the variation in tone that I find more appealing.
But this is only a slight criticism. Let me move on to what I am trying to emulate. After I came home from the GFA convention, one of the things I have been doing is re-thinking right hand fingerings on some of my pieces in light of seeing and hearing Ana play. I am trying to use i
more often and in place of a
in general. I am taking for granted that m
is stronger than i
and so it often is used on down beats or notes with strong emphasis. When I use the a
finger I want to be clear about it's function. I ask myself if it is substituting for i
or for m
? For the most part, I want a
to be a substitute for i
in it's function. And this means using a
more frequently on weaker beats. This seems to work well especially for pieces that are based on divisions of two and four. For groups of three, I think you have to use the a
finger more frequently on strong beats. But it is still worth experimenting to find optimum sounds and ease of playing. If nothing else, seeing Ana Vidavic perform has made me rethink how I use the fingers of my right hand. And this is definitely a good thing.