"No doubt this Carnegie Hall debut was a success." by New York Concert Review

José Manuel Dapena, guitar
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
February 6, 2008

The excellent guitarist José Manuel Dapena presented a marvelous spectrum of Spanish music at Weill Recital Hall on February 6th, and while I usually prefer more stylistic variety, the concert will not soon be forgotten. Dapena was no doubt a specialist tonight, and that term - while sometimes implying a limitation - is also a way of bringing focus to a genre that needs exploring - a worthy focus in this case - to Spanish culture via the guitar.

Mr. Dapena chose well in his selection of the music. Scores by Turina, Vázquez, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Eduardo Sainz de la Maza are not all household names, but the audience seemed to feel that they should be, and I for the most part agree. Turina was featured twice with his Danzas gitanas, Op. 55 and his Danzas fantasticas, Op. 22. Dapena made a case for the former of the two, with an excellent opening Zambra, a seductive Danza ritual and an engrossing Sacro-Monte. Still, Danzas fantasticas is better known for a reason, as every single note is inspired. Dapena knows this music like the back of his hand, and although I would like to hear him try other composers such as Bach, it is always good to know when composers of a particular period or style are in good hands.

Although Bach's music wasn't present, another prelude and fugue appeared: Octavio Vázquez's well crafted Prelude and Fugue for Guitar, Op.16, which was played with both intimacy and flair. Dapena's performances of Jimenez's "Platero and I" and music of Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Eduardo Sainz del la Maza impressed with their continuity and sense of purpose. The playing had profound commitment, and there was much variety of emotion conveyed.

Dapena has recorded his debut CD: "Rincon magico - Spanish music by Joaquin Turina on original manuscripts", and if it is anything like his playing here, I would recommend getting a hold of it.

Upcoming highlights of the 2007/08 season indude debuts in Columbia, Miami, and at the Bangkok Guitar Festival. No doubt this Carnegie Hall debut was a success. Next time, I hope he explores other ethnicities or stylistic periods.

New York Concert Review, Carnegie Hall debut. Anthony Aibel