Sweet notes for Valentine's Day

When it comes to soothing the senses or battling the blahs on a cold and rainy Valentine's Day, there's nothing quite like the sweet strumming of a classical guitar. That and a lot more treated last Tuesday's noontime recital class and other Richland friends from the stage of Fannin Hall as Dr. Enric Madriguera from UTD on guitar and professor Natalya Pitts from Collin College on piano performed both as soloists and as a duo.

Madriguera opened the calming concert with Four Dances of the Italian Renaissance transcribed for solo guitar from the lute by Oscar Chillesoti. Then he smoothly switched from Italy to Spain by deftly playing spirited flamenco like pieces by Manuel de Falla.    

He was followed at this point by Pitts who awed the audience with a thundering rendition on the piano of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Elegy Op. 3 No. 1 in E Flat Minor. At times her hands were almost a blur as she seamlessly crossed them under and then over each other to carry forward the flow of the theme.  

For the final portion of the recital Madriguera and Pitts teamed together to deliver two works for piano and guitar by the 20th century composers Manuel Ponce of Mexico and Mario Castelnuevo Tedesco, an Italian-American.  Both of these pieces called for careful coordination and attention to timing as well as making sure that the piano did not drown out the guitar.  One charming section came when the two perfectly balanced instruments echoed each other back and forth on the melodic line.  

During the informal Q and A that followed the performance, Madriguera and Pitts were asked by a Richand voice student about who leads the tempo when they play duets?  "No one, really, when we play together," responded a smiling Madriguera.  "But it actually depends on the level of the other person when I am accompanying a student," added Pitts in a delightful Russian accent.  She is the staff accompanist at her school.  

Madriguera laughingly admitted to the last questioner that it was an early love of The Beatles as a teen that inspired him to take up the guitar.  All the members of the audience then agreed with a hearty round of applause that they were mighty glad he had.