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Guitarists to display classical, flamenco styles

Guitarists to display classical, flamenco styles

No melody sounds more soulful than one played on a lone guitar. Yet the same instrument can make one
Guitarists to display classical, flamenco styles
Maria Zemantauski and the Brasil Guitar Duo. (Zemantauski photo by Heather Hamlin)

No melody sounds more soulful than one played on a lone guitar. Yet the same instrument can make one itch to dance when a guitarist lets loose with fiery rhythms. On Thursday, the Brasil Guitar Duo will entrance with their melodies in a virtuosic display of classical guitar technique. On Sunday, Nov. 13, Maria Zemantauski’s flamenco guitar playing may make you want to yell, “Ole!”

“Rhythm rules in flamenco,” Zemantauski said. “Yet, it is based on the cante jondo, a deep soulful song.”

In the 19th century, the Gypsies in Spain adopted this highly emotional and tragic song, making it more florid and expressive and changed its name to cante flamenco. One of the techniques they employed was a kind of strumming with the right hand in which all five fingers fan out like in a roll, Zemantauski said.

Maria Zemantauski

WHEN: 3 p.m. Nov. 13

WHERE: The Hyde Collection, 161 Warren St., Glens Falls

HOW MUCH: $25

MORE INFO: 636-5975; www.deblasiismusicseries.org

Other techniques are slapping the strings and tapping the ring finger next to the sound board, which adds a percussive effect to the strumming. Accents are also not on the usual beats.

“They can be on the third, sixth, eighth, tenth or twelfth beat and can vary regionally,” she said, adding that on Sunday she’ll perform several original pieces, some based on the rumba, and a few classical Spanish tunes.

All this makes for a very different sounding music from the type of music that classical guitarists play.

Tone and clarity

“We care more about tone and the clarity of voices, especially polyphonically,” said Brasil Guitarist Joao Luiz. “Flamenco is very vocal and has a specific line. And their approach to the right hand is different. They play scales really fast with a dry, staccato articulation. We do little of this. We want our lines to be heard.”

Brasil Guitar Duo

WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 10

WHERE: Zankel Music Center, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs

HOW MUCH: $8, $5

MORE INFO: 580-5321; www.skidmore.edu/zankel

Luiz and his partner Douglas Lora have been together more than 15 years, won numerous awards, and travel the globe performing classical repertoire for two guitars, which for their concert will include works of the Baroque era and by Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, and Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti. Much of their second half will be devoted to Brazilian music, which includes several dance forms like the samba.

The training for these guitarists was different. The duo each studied classical guitar through college and conservatory and received multiple degrees. Luiz now heads the guitar department at SUNY Purchase.

Zemantauski, who had trained classically in college, was “drawn to the dynamic, wildly expressive, exciting strumming” of a flamenco guitarist she heard at a West Point concert. But to study flamenco she had to find a private teacher. She still is one of the few female flamenco guitarists in the world. “It tends to be a male thing,” Zemantauski said with a chuckle.

Different guitars

Their guitars are also different.

The duo’s guitars are made by Sergio Abreu in Brazil of old German spruce and Brazilian rosewood. Luiz’s guitar also has a seventh string (guitars are usually six strings) which gives him an extra bass with “almost a harpsichord’s range.”

Zemantauski has two Spanish-made guitars and one built by Mike Collins of Argyle (Washington County) of spruce and myrtle. It is also smaller sized with the action lower, which allows her to get a “snappy groove” to her sound.

Luiz pointed out one other difference: Zemantauski is a soloist and he works with a partner.

“As a soloist it is all about yourself, but communication is beautiful with two,” he said. “You need to know your partner’s part and consistency [between the players] is important.”

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