Reproduced with permission from a report on Nordhorn Guitar Festival 2014 by Mark de Gooijer from his website www.dosamigos-homepage.nl
Concert Simon Cheong
Before dinner we got a nice piece of music to get hungry!
The guitarists from the Far East are terra incognita for me, so it was a lucky coincidence that this afternoon we were introduced to Simon Cheong, a fine guitarist from Malaysia. When he hit the stage I noticed that he paid tribute to the ensemble of the owners of Kulturhaus NIHZ, he appeared Not Dressed in Black, but in a nicely coloured silk blouse.
His colourful outfit was representative for his programme, we did not get heavy and gloomy contemporaries, but pleasant guitar music for enjoyment.
He started with three works by the Argentine Maximo Diego Pujol (*1957). Preludio Tristan brought a musical reverie with a passionate climax, two local dance forms pictured a joyful party in sunny Buenos Aires.
Cheong did not forget the music from his own country. Tanah Pusaka and Putera Puteri appeared interesting melodies that you do not hear often in Europe. The next piece fooled me, although it sounded Eastern, it was no Malaysian melody but an impression by Cheong’s guitar teacher John Duarte (1919-2004), called Variations on an Indonesian Song. Well composed and played likewise!
Time for the Spanish sound in the form of an arrangement of the joyful piano piece Serenata Espanola by Joaquin Malats (`1872-1912). Malats took care for the Spanish idiom, Simon Cheong took care for a swinging performance of this piece.
Playing the English Suite by John Duarte, Cheong made a tribute to his master. I really enjoyed hearing this piece in a live performance again, because after Duarte’s death his music virtually disappeared from the programmes. With Prelude, Folk Song and Round Dance the guitarist showed that Duarte made a nice contribution to the guitar repertoire. I got inspired to look for 16 English Folk Songs and 40 Community Songs –all arrangements by Duarte- on my Attic!
The Argentine composer Jose Luis Merlin (*1952) does not appear often on programmes either, so I was glad that Simon Cheong played Suite del Recuerdo this afternoon. Many guitarist know the first movement Evocacion, but Simon Cheong made with his skilful play the clear statement that the rest of the suite is beautiful too!
Nice and enjoyable concert!