This week the Pan American Union is celebrating the 89th anniversary of its founding. As part of the Inter-American Week festivities the organization is holding a series of special concerts, which began last night with a guitar recital by the Brazilian artist, Carlos Barbosa-Lima.
Barbosa-Lima put together a stunning program of 20th-century works by Latin American composers, several of whom have written pieces specifically for him. The most interesting, both in terms of the music and the performance was Alberto Ginastera's Sonata, which Barbosa-Lima premiered in Washington in 1976.
The sonata was Ginastera's first work for the guitar and it is filled with unusual effects, including hand-crossings, string glissandos and pizzicatos, which heighten the expressive impact of the music. Barbosa-Lime obviously has a special affinity for the sonata, which he played with style and sensitivity.
In the rest of his program Barbosa-Lima proved to be an extraordinary colorist, whose abilities to shade and savor tones sometimes interrupted the flow of the music. This tendency to broaden the music excessively frequently sacrificed the overall pulse to smaller moments of beauty. The result was that nearly every work took on a gentle, almost leisurely quality which in some cases was not appropriate. With more dynamism and rhythmic intensity Barbosa-Lima could have doubled the effect of an otherwiwise handsome performance.