'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Track 6 - 'Arrival' - Pierre Petit

Track 6 on 'Arrival' is 'Tarantelle' by Pierre Petit.
Every time I hear this piece I can't help laughing, but you will have to read on, to the end, to find out why.

'Tarantelle' along with 'Toccatta' are, in Robin's opinion, two of the greatest duo pieces written, and are certainly amongst the most difficult to play.

Pierre Petit studied at the Paris Conservatoire, and in the 1950's was made director of light music for the French radio and T.V. company ORTF. He was also a music critic for 'Parisien Libere' and 'Le Figaro'.
His compositions include the 'Suite for Four Cellos' (1945), 'Zadig' (a ballet, 1948), 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra' (1956), and a 'Concerto for two Guitars and Orchestra' (1965), which was composed for the famous husband and wife duo, Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya.
In 1946 Petit won the much coveted composers' competition, the 'Prix de Rome'.

The 'Tarantelle' is a piece of music best avoided if you suffer from arachnophobia.
It has been suggested that the music depicts the frenzied dance of an unfortunate individual after they have been bitten by a deadly tarantula...
It is however also a joyful and ebullient piece of music, which in the first slow section quotes, 'Clair de Lune' by Claude Debussy.
As the piece progresses, you can certainly imagine a gyrating person as they suffer the consequences of the tarantula's venom.

What you can't hear, unless you purchase the track of course, is the end of the 'Tarantelle'.
This is where my amusement arises.

The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo have frequently performed the 'Tarantelle', and usually, it is programmed at the end of the first half, as it has such a grand finale.
Naturally one wants to leave their audience keen to hear more.

The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo are certainly not known for ever playing safe in live concerts.
Instead they constantly push themselves, and each other, to perform the most exciting version they can, whilst obviously maintaining accuracy.
A difficult balance to achieve.
Fuelled by concert adrenaline, it makes for a heady mix.
The 'Tarantelle' is therefore the perfect piece to stimulate the duo's virtuosity.

As the piece progresses it becomes more and more exciting, and on one occasion, Robin got rather over enthusiastic.
He knew the performance was going well and the audience were already stunned.

However, on the finale of the piece Robin executes a rapid drum roll on the side of his guitar, using both hands.
Robin was pleased with the fantastic percussive effect until he glanced down at his beautiful Rubio guitar and spotted a massive split in the Brazilian rosewood along the guitar's entire length.
During the interval he was able to inspect the damage, but there wasn't really a lot that could be done.
The entire second half of the concert was performed with a little more caution.
The Rubio was later repaired and restored to it's former glory.

So whilst Robin has been called, "the Jimi Hendrix of the classical guitar," I think we should add Pete Townshend to the list....
Go and have a listen, from the extract that you hear, it starts to become apparent, just how frenzied 'Tarantelle' becomes.

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