Classical guitarists Milton Jensen and Todd Woodbury in concert at Red Butte Gardens with guests Rick Nobis on harpsichord and Erich Graf on flute Sunday, July 31, 6 p.m., one performance only. Broadcast live on KUER (90.1 FM).What was billed as the Jensen-Woodbury guitar concert turned into a celebration of strings, harpsichord and flute Sunday afternoon in Red Butte Gardens just east of the University of Utah.
The hundreds of picnickers, bicycists and casually dressed concert-goers who filed into the State Arboretum of Utah were not disappointed.
Erich Graf, sporting blue-lens sunglasses and a white turtleneck, and Rick Nobis, bearded and in short sleeves, opened the live broadcast by performing "a light, bright" Bach sonata, followed by an 18th century tune and inviting "those into baroque, minuet dancing to get up and move around."
Allowing Graf and Nobis to go first gave guitarists Milton Jensen and Todd Woodbury time to size up the audience and "test the wind," so to speak. Graf's sheet music was particularly affected by the light breezes, and the two guitarists spent much of the first half hour holding down Graf's score.
Exit Graf and Nobis - enter Jensen and Woodbury. The classical guitarists ran through several short pieces then performed works by Brazilian composers Celso Machado and Ernesto Nazareth. The two Machado works were studies in contrasts, the first, an almost lullaby piece with long soothing notes contrasted sharply with the harsh, faster-paced "Images of the Northeast."
The same was true with Nazareth's lilting "Bambino" and faster-paced "Odeon." Jensen and Woodbury work well, complementing each other's sound.
Graf and Nobis returned for several short works, including "a French piece" that had Graf on piccolo playing successively faster and faster and illiciting enthusiastic applause.
After a five-minute intermission, Graf and Woodbury teammed up for a Francios Poulenc number and Nobis and Jensen followed with a "quite serious" Steven Dodgson piece written for harpsichord and guitar. The work seemed overly long and plodding in places, and the notes often appeared strained.
Graf and Jensen performed Astor Piazzolla's "Night Club - 1960," and the concert ended with the four musicians combining for Vivaldi's "Concerto for 2 Mandolins." The group played the second and third movements for the radio audience, with only guitars and harspicord in use in the second and Graf used sparingly throughout the third. Then followed the most recognizable piece of the night - Pachelbel's "Canon" - interrupted at the end by KUER's Wes Bowen apologizing for his voice-over as the radio signed off.
Graf, Nobis, Jensen and Woodbury then treated the canyon audience to the Vivaldi first movement, a delightful, rollicking piece to end the evening.
Fans of Jensen and Woodbury will want to catch the duo each Saturday night through August at the "Midway Concert Series" in the Wasatch State Park's Visitor Center. The final two Red Butte concerts are scheduled Aug. 14 and 28.