Adelaide International Guitar Festival

Guitar Festival Review: Paco Lara Quartet: Duende

A real treat to be able to witness one of the best flamenco guitarists in the entire world

A real treat to be able to witness one of the best flamenco guitarists in the entire world

Presented by: Adelaide Guitar Festival
Reviewed: 16 July, 2023

There is no need to travel all the way to the other side of the world when Paco Lara is around and whisking the audience to the South of Spain with his beautiful melodies – it is a treat to have him at the Adelaide Guitar Festival.

It is always a pleasure to witness the Spanish maestro of both traditional and contemporary Flamenco (the Spanish genre of song, dance and instrumental – mainly guitar – which is mostly associated with the Andalusian Roma in southern Spain) in action. ‘Duende’, which loosely translates in Spanish to “having soul” or “a heightened state of emotion, expression or heart”, is not only the name of the show but also Lara’s upcoming album. The name is perfect as Lara and his Quartet musically embody ‘duende’ in this loving ode to his hometown of Jerez in Spain which lies in the very heartland of flamenco.

With his impossibly quick wrist flips (which are like a blur against the backdrop of his guitar), Lara’s bolder strums, purposefully powerful taps and masterful string-pulling, he emanates the power, passion, emotion and fire of dramatic Flamenco and intensely communicates the cante jondo (“profound” or “deep” songs) style of the genre. Throughout these songs the dramatically placed stops and starts keep the enamoured audience on their toes, never knowing which way the music will wind next.

Lara’s bold and powerful notes contrast dramatically with those that he forms so gently, almost like light musical whispers – they grace the Space Theatre gently for a second and then they’re gone, just as quickly as they appeared.

Throughout the show Lara is accompanied by his Quartet – a variety of artistic additions, including the piano, a Cajon (a box drum that you sit on, symbols, a Spanish singer and vibrant flamenco dancer, all of which draw the audience further into the famous Spanish genre of music and give the show more depth.

The flamenco dancer did appear a little stiff and possibly unpolished at minor points, but this was a minor issue as the focus was more attuned to Maestro Lara and his remarkable utilisation of the flamenco guitar. Lara and the Quartet’s encore also felt a tad repetitive at the end of the hour and a half, and it would have been great to see a punchier or perhaps shorter encore, but for passionate flamenco fans this may have been the perfect ending.

Flamenco is such a powerful form of music, and especially featuring the guitar, so it is a real treat to be able to witness one of the best flamenco guitarists in the entire world when Paco Lara comes to town.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd

Photo credit: supplied

Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: ended
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

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