Almanac Music: Slava and Sharon Grigoryan at the Trinity Sessions

Photo courtesy Trinity Sessions: https://www.trinitysessions.org

 

It is a change of pace at the Trinity Session.  Our previous visit saw us appreciating the guitar-wielding maestro that is Jeff Lang.  This time we are in the presence of two of Australia’s finest musicians, Slava and Sharon Grigoryan.

 

Slava, the classical guitar virtuoso, is Adelaide music royalty.  A brilliant musician, he also ‘moonlights’ as Artistic Director of the Adelaide Guitar Festival (we have tickets for The Stones Sticky Fingers anniversary show).

 

Sharon, the cellist, has performed with all of our major symphony orchestras and is coming off a long stint with the Adelaide-based Australian String Quartet.  The wife used to work with a girl whose husband worked for the ASQ.  We went to one of their gigs, noted the decent program they had mapped out, then COVID hit.

 

We are not classical music buffs, but we do enjoy quality musicians.

 

Slava and Sharon have been collaborating ‘personally’ for a while, but they are now bringing their union into their professional world.  Slava is the better-known of the two, but you get the feeling this is Sharon’s show.  She introduces the pieces and interacts with the audience, waiting patiently as Slava re-tunes his instrument after each piece.  Slava, the virtuoso, provides a lot of rhythm and space for Sharon to fill.

 

Photo courtesy Trinity Sessions: https://www.trinitysessions.org/

 

This is a Trinity Sessions with a difference, we are purely acoustic.  Still, the acoustics are such that the sound fills the room.  Sitting in our preferred rearward seats (spacious in these COVID times), we don’t miss a note.  The sound guy would usually be in the spot we occupy.  It was interesting to watch (and hear) him at work in a previous gig.  I had to resist the temptation to suggest that we needed more cowbell.

 

I enjoy the contrast of Slava to Jeff Lang.  Lang, the roots-music artisan, wrings and drives unholy sounds from his acoustic guitar.  Lang was the guitar-wielding maestro.  Slava does not so much wield his guitar, as caress it.  I am taken by the lightness and gentle touch of his playing.  His fingers move effortlessly from intricate chords to spider-like runs along the fretboard as he right hand gently strokes and picks the strings.  I have seen Slava wield an ‘axe’.  He plugged in a Fender Telecaster at last year’s festival with The Yearlings.  Even on the electric instrument his playing was intricate and soulful, yet gentle.

 

Full disclosure, I don’t know a lot about the cello.  But seeing a player of this quality at close quarters, I was able to appreciate the complexity of the playing, the textures, and the layers.  Sharon’s playing was as equally at home in the spacious, softer pieces as it was in the more intense, intricate works.  She could gently caress notes from her instrument, then changes things up with fast fingering and the dragging out of notes from within the depths of her cello.  It must say something if you have one of Australia’s finest classical guitarists on stage and you find yourself drawn to the playing of the cellist.

 

Slava and Sharon have an album out, a selection of duets for cello and guitar.  Interesting enough, many of the pieces they choose this night were not composed for cello and guitar.  We have a collection of cello and harpsicord, cello and piano, solo cello, solo guitar, and string quartet pieces that have been rearranged for cello and guitar.  Their arranging skills are as impressive as their musicianship.

 

They take us on a journey through Vivaldi and Ravel, to Brazilian and Argentinian composers, and round it out by visiting the works of an eclectic New York City quartet.  The show is thoroughly enjoyable, the playing brilliant.  I don’t know any of the pieces, and I don’t start clapping until everyone else does, but I clap long and hard.

 

Where do you go after witnessing such an intricate and compelling performance?  Do you delve further down the ‘rabbit hole’ in search of cultural enlightenment?  Or do you cue up The Doors ‘Morrison Hotel’ to unwind?  I went with the latter option this time.  Small steps.

 

 

 

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Dour opener and close-checking fullback. Peaked early.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this, Greg.
    I don’t know a lot about Sharon, but I know that Slava is a genius.

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