Adelaide’s Flamenco Areti ensemble opened this much-anticipated concert with great flair, colour and movement.
Backed by tasteful guitarists Kieren Ray and Werner Neumann, the five dancers were a visual feast with their brilliant costumes, elegant lines and relentless rhythm. In contrast, solo male dancer Tomas Arroquero was proud, poised and powerful with withering feet.
Antonio Soria’s earthy Spanish vocals were at times overpowering but conveyed drama and emotion, especially in a duet with Flamenco Areti director and dancer Areti Boyaci in a stunning red dress.
After the interval, the audience looked forward to the appearance of the José Antonio Rodríguez Trio. The strong flamenco theme in this year’s Guitar Festival is a result of a new sister event relationship with the Cordoba Guitar Festival, held recently in Andalusia, Spain. Rodriguez is a professor of flamenco guitar at Cordoba’s Conservatorium; he is also a renowned composer and performer.
From the opening riffs of the first song, the richness and beauty of the sound from his guitar was astonishing. Pretty melodies mixed with driving, effortless rhythm and dazzling speed and complexity required attentive listening.
Gypsy flamenco with a classical and, at times, jazz feel characterised the songs. Rodriguez can switch from soulful delicate emotion to a wild dance beat with a flick of the wrist and shrug of the shoulder.
The percussionist was intriguing. No sticks but an array of drums and cymbals produced subtle, irresistible rhythm, along with the back-up guitarist. In flamenco, the feet and hands of the dancers become part of the percussion and music. Tomas Arroquero and his lighting feet joined the trio for three songs which were highlights of the performance.
There were more highlights during the encore. A solo by Rodriguez combined two simple melodies played simultaneously, with the same hand making a sublime whole. He was then joined by his other trio members, with all three playing on his one guitar.
A memorable opening to the Adelaide International Guitar Festival. Ole!
The José Antonio Rodríguez Trio played at the Festival Theatre as part of the Adelaide International Guitar Festival, which continues until Sunday.
Guitar Festival stories:
Bass instincts drive unique flamenco fusion (Christopher Hale)
All eyes on guitar wiz Guthrie Govan
2014 Adelaide International Guitar Festival program launch