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His performances, as we see throughout, epitomize art concealing art; the most daunting miniatures are presented with a composure similarly apparent in the singular creative work of 20th century legends such as songwriter-lyricist Irving Berlin, pianist Alfred Brendel, chanteuse Sarah Vaughan and dancer Cyd Charisse.
Both documentaries belie their age (three and four decades, respectively); the Mediterranean spectrum emerges with pleasing fidelity and at Los Olivos (on the Costa del Sol) and The Alhambra 'Opus Arte's' stereo sound has sufficient amplitude and colour to convey the full scope of Segovia's beguiling tonal palette.
'The sounds of the Spanish guitar have echoed down these streets since the beginnings of Spanish history.' Screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte/Allegro Films
The gifted youngster taught himself the instrument, pioneered modern techniques and gave his Madrid début in 1909; though a first New York concert didn't take place until 1928. Nonetheless Segovia's appearances and growing reputation prompted composers to begin writing for guitar and Heitor Villa-Lobos, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, John Duarte, Albert Harris, Juan Manén, Manuel Ponce and Alexander Tansman all dedicated music to him.
Copyright © 9 January 2008
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand