Johnston Brothers: Australian Rhapsody – Basic Melbourne

How thrilling and stimulating was this passionate and refined recital by guitarists Ziggy & Miles Johnston as they proceed to forge a robust, enduring and good profession. Prize winners in Australia’s most prestigious guitar competitions, the Johnston Brothers turned the primary guitar duo to be accepted into the Juilliard College of Music, the place they are going to now return to finish Juilliard’s Artist Diploma program. Tonight’s sell-out live performance was testimony to the excessive regard and respect for the admirable expertise and superior musicianship of this charismatic partnership.

Notable guitar duos have set a tricky excessive normal – one thinks of John Williams & Julian Bream, and our personal Grigoryan Brothers, Leonard & Slava, who’ve mentored and impressed Ziggy & Miles. Displaying an analogous flawless and technical brilliance mixed with a love of the magic of Spanish, Australian, classical and modern guitar genres, tonight’s efficiency confirmed that Ziggy & Miles are additionally on a singular profession path.

Written in 1959, Joaquin Rodrigo’s three-movement work, Tonadilla, was fairly a wonderful opening. Nearly like a Spanish fanfare, we have been enthralled by the mixture of thrilling conventional flamenco rhythms blended with shifting quirky chromatic steps and stunning biting modern melodic shapes. Vibrant and intense, the viewers was challenged to hear “in stereo” to embrace the various shifting technical components on this music. The second motion, Minueto Pomposo centred round a slower dramatic bolero rhythm with classical and expressive free flowing scales with many abruptly contrasting tonal sections. An Allegro Vivace additional fascinated us with extremely synchronised precision in superior finger-picking on this balanced, blended and flawless ensemble.

The music of Enrique Granados, firmly rooted in Spanish nationalism and really feel, is very elegant and classical in construction, with sturdy Romantic melodies and sudden modifications from main to minor parallel keys evident of his piano research in France.  Valse Poeticos (8 Waltzes), initially written for solo piano (c. 1886-1894), have for a very long time been within the guitar repertoire for solo or duo guitars. The Johnston Brothers selected an association by modern Bavarian/German duo Gruber & Makler, the place refined taking part in strategies reminiscent of palming, dampening and taking part in close to the bridge added freshness to the romantic waltz melody and the contrasting flights of virtuosic runs.  Classical in construction, the work was given dramatic, modern and complicated color. Fairly spectacular was the Brothers Johnston’s split-second timing of intense silences, instantaneous and dramatic contrasts in dynamics and tone color, usually required with velocity of judgement and exact bodily motion, management and choice making.

Sadly, there have been no programme notes for this glorious repertoire, however each brothers spoke warmly and affably to the viewers, sharing their reminiscences of guitar classes and their private affection for the colorful Melbourne guitarist Phillip Houghton (1954 – 2017) earlier than taking part in his Three Duets. The Mantis and the Moon confirmed illustrative tarantella dancing steps, contrasting mild angular steps, considerate silences, exploring and scurrying exercise. In Lament, solemn, unhappy, attractive arpeggiated chords held us in a gradual pulse, with intriguing concord and brief melodic phrases fading within the softness of softnesses to a breathlessness. Alchemy was technically formidable, and gave Miles & Ziggy the chance for energetic, flowing, virtuosic tremolos and percussive results on strings and woodwork.

Superbly related was the subsequent alternative of Distance, a luxurious piece by Leonard Grigoryan. Tonight the taking part in was heat and reflective, with a candy, lyrical melodic phrase recurring between mild improvisatory sections, sliding and gently shifting tonal centres, and an thrilling build-up of waves of tremolos, closing with mushy, syncopated, nearly Latin, dance flavours. It was a positive probability to listen to the resonant and honey-tones of the Brothers’ positive guitars – made by Adelaide’s Jim Redgate and Domenic Roscioli. How particular to have Australian composers, musicians and devices collectively on this live performance second.

In Nigel Westlake’s Songs From the Forest, composed initially for guitar and percussion, the duo excelled with unified timbres and textures, pushing the dynamics and assertive percussive patterns on each strings and guitar physique. Extra advanced components on this vibrant piece, assertive melodic work, rhythmic slapping of the strings and altering meters by no means misplaced the component of pleasure and delicate shock. A most progressive part of the piece required nice delicacy and softness in a brief multi-pitched part of broadly spaced harmonics. Coming late within the piece it was an exquisite shock, ephemeral, atmospheric and richly enhanced within the acoustic of the Primrose Potter Salon.

With prolonged applause following this good program, Miles & Ziggy gave us their association of Debussy’s Clair de Lune, not with out power, displaying additional blended and harmonious contrasts with a sensuous, mushy and delicate ending.

Picture provided.


J.McErlain reviewed “Australian Rhapsody” carried out by the Johnston Brothers guitar duo on the Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon on July 14, 2022.