Andres Segovia has long since reached the point where we relate to him not as an individual but an institution, a mystique, a substantial piece of musical history. When he walked onstage at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall yesterday afternoon, the capacity audience applauded - quite properly - a legend and a tradition as much as a man.
In terms of pure techniquo, his hands are not quite as quick or accurate as they were a few years ago, though they still do full justice to the music he chooses. There are now a handful of younger guitarists, many of them students of his (or even of his students), who play with more fire and panache; but music-making is more than a matter of dexterity, and at his best there is still a magic in the old man's hands that no other can match.
It takes him a while to warm up. but once this has happened he can still convince you that a Bach fugue written for the violin should have been written for the guitar.
Most of the music was pleasant and inconsequential, but there was substance and delight in the pieces by Bach, Villa-Lobos and Albeniz.