According to Segovia, the guitar originated in Apollo's pursuit of Daphne, who was changed into a laurel tree just as the god embraced her. From that sacred wood the first guitar was made, and images of courtship have been applied ever since to playing of the guitar.

Wearing a brown turtleneck sweater and corduroy trousers, classical guitarist Christopher Parkening looked and played like a modern Apollo at the Lisner Theater Saturday night. His communion with his instrument was so intense that it was almost embarrassing, as if one were overhearing the most intimate of dialogues. With a passion that was proud, deep and single-minded, Parkening pressed the guitar to yield its most profound secrets.

His playing was marked by a classical purity and restraint. In the first half of the program, playing music of a linear nature, he was a master at conveying through color and dynamics the sense of several voices moving forward at once. In the second half, which consisted of work more harmonic and expressive in style, he effortlessly handled the expanded technical and coloristic demands of the music. Like a restrained, yet intense, suitor, Parkening could turn a pause into a profound deliberation or a slight accent into an anguished sigh.