Shillong recently had a once in a lifetime experience at the International Guitar Festival at U Soso Tham Auditorium.
The festival had Johannes Moller and Le Maestrio as headliners with local group Nylon Connections opening for them.
Swedish guitarist Johannes Moller’s classical repertoire had jazz infused in it. He played his original Eternal Dream with poetic fluidity. The composition started slow and later reached a crescendo as Moller went with solos. The solos were sharp and precise. The song had a sense of wholeness to it where no element felt overdone.
Drops of Silk had a flow like liquid and created images of nature with all its beauty. There was a fine balance between complexity and accessibility in the piece. Moller’s lean fingers danced on the fret-board creating melodies full of emotion.
The Night Flame had Moller playing with pace. But there was carefulness with each chord. Every element in the piece felt perfect and natural. Moller showcased his versatility by altering the melodies and rhythms of the piece. The audience was delighted.
Rosheela had influences of folk music from around the world. It was rich with poetry and was able to evoke memories in the listener. The composition was well thought out with the solos having coherence with the build up to it. Moller played with vitality getting the complex melodies right.
In addition to these songs was his rendition of standard compositions. Augustin Barrios’s Un Sueno En La Floresta was played beautifully. Albeniz’s Asturias had depth with feelings. Dominicon’s Kogonbaba had a blend of classical Indian ragas with Moller being technical with the guitar.
Thirty-six-year-old Moller played his first gig in church at the age of 13 and now has released three albums — Spanish Music, China and India. He says he wants to specialise with fusion and is focused in producing more records.
“The audience was wonderful and the sound was good,” he added.
The guitarist had toured the US, South America, Australia, China and Europe.
The newly formed Le Maestrio from France comprises Symon Sauignoni and Pierre Bernon, both 33 years old, and 34-year-old Pierre Louyriac. The band performed each of the members’ compositions.
Zapatedo had Louyriac as the lead with the flamenco guitar. He shifted melodies also giving space for Bernon and Sauignoni. The sound of the flamenco guitar made the audience clap their hands. The sound never felt rushed as each chord progression was well-timed.
Amiaize was a mix of classical, gypsy jazz and flamenco. It had a deep rich sound that was evocative. Sauignoni, Bernon and Louyriac played with accuracy. The tune echoed the dance music of South American folk.
Orane had a circular approach in terms of rhythm where each of the members soloed with their guitars. The sound produced was fusion of refined taste. It had a haunting quality to it which took the audience on an emotional ride.
Once Upon A Time felt like a story composed with images of nature. It progressed slow and went deep with complexities in chords employed. There was a clarity to various emotions within the song. The guitars expressed a placidity that was unique.
Valse Corse was a dance tune fit for dancing. It had a pacy rhythm by Louyriac with embellishments from Sauignoni and Bernon. The solos were performed with deftness. There was a charm in the way the melodies changed and altered.
Rumba of Detroit as the name suggests was akin to rumba the dance form. It was full of energy making the audience clap along. There was sharpness to the delivery of the guitars which had a range of complex chord progressions. Jazz is felt to the core by the musicians.
Shallot Lullaby gave a sense of calmness. It was composed well with its varied rhythms and melodies. Bernon was important to the piece with the classical guitar making it sing. The sound was peaceful to the ears. It had a simplicity that never felt forced.
There were also renditions by Le Maestrio of standard compositions.
“We work on improvisation using the three guitars,” said Louyriac.
With influences ranging from Django Reinhardt, Tcan Tchou Vidal, Paco De Lucia and Augustin Barrios, the band tries to mix classical, gypsy jazz and flamenco.
“We are currently working on an album called Mano A Mano,” says Bernon.
Just recently formed, Le Maestrio says their recent performance at the Big Classical Festival in France was the best.
“The audience of Shillong came out inspite of the cold. It is a great experience playing here,” said Sauignoni.
The festival was organised by the Indian Council for Cultural relations in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture, Indian Guitar Federation and Alliance Francaise du Bengale.