Michio enchants classical audiences

Hearing the guitar played as a solo instrument in a concert was a new experience for the Nordhausen audience and offered the musicians of the Loh Orchestra a real challenge. Michio, the soloist, delighted his audience right from the start with his virtuoso yet also deeply-felt performance. He was at one with his instrument; they clearly belonged together, both in the chords struck in the spirited rhythmic passages in the traditional Spanish dances and in their gentle, sensitive interpretation of the poignant melodies. The soloist displayed his command of every possible guitar technique. The orchestra knew how to respond to the composer’s and performer’s intentions and to carry them further. A particular high point came in the second movement with its compelling duet of guitar and cor anglais. The prolonged applause was rewarded with two encores in which the soloist again underlined his mastery of the instrument.

Christel Laude, Thüringer Allgemeine

Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” is the dream of all classical guitarists but also their nightmare. But not only classical guitarists. Some 15 years ago Paco de Lucia hit upon the idea of showing everybody that he was not just a flamenco performer. This he proved with his recording of this concerto. Michio was out to prove the same. Why else would he have accepted such a strenuous undertaking by accepting to the Loh Orchestra’s invitation to participate in two of its symphony concerts? Perhaps he simply could not make up his mind, or did not wish to tie himself to any particular type of music – flamenco in any case, but jazz too, and of course music for the dance theatre, Latin-American music when necessary, and occasionally classical as well. And Wolfgang Suttner’s wonderful new Negra guitar also wanted to appear on stage. The Loh Orchestra of Sondershausen, the erstwhile capital of a small German state, is no mere ensemble of amateur musicians. It is one of Germany’s most firmly established orchestras with a rich tradition reaching back to the 17th century and which had a role to play in popularising the music of Liszt and Wagner. This weekend it is the turn of Michio. The second movement of the “Concierto de Aranjuez”, with its popular bell-like effects, can prove something of a stumbling-block when played live. But Michio puts so much feeling and commitment into his playing, and his interpretation of the theme is so far removed from any sort of banality, that the audience instinctively close their eyes. Michio is likewise overcome by the work’s beauty: he, too, closes his eyes, only raising his head from time to time to look at the conductor; yet he seems to be looking beyond him and drifting into another world. The stress of practice and rehearsal seems to have left him as the concerto flows effortlessly from his instrument. No sooner has the last echo of the final chord died away in the elegant auditorium of Nordhausen’s theatre, than the audience erupts into rapturous applause. After many a bow comes a solo encore without orchestra : a “bulería”, fast and loud, to bring the concert to an end – and that’s how it should be when a flamenco guitarist is the guest of a classical orchestra. The audience is spellbound. Afterwards, outside the theatre, one can sense that Michio is slowly starting to relax, a contented smile playing about his eyes. And as a reward for a truly successful evening there’s the traditional pizza and a glass of Uncle Hans’s very best wine.

Claudia Trüschler, ANDA