What drives Andres Segovia, who celebrated his 91st birthday last year touring the United States, to continue giving concerts? The answer is elementary, my dear Watson. Audiences. Like the kind at the Kennedy Center Friday night, who stood and cheered and showered tumultuous applause on the guitar virtuoso as he sauntered, cane in hand, on stage.
This adulation and adoration greeted the dignified, and still dapper, musician before he played one note. His guitar was brought to him after he sat down. A respectful hush fell over the listeners. They came to hear a living legend, and Segovia obliged by playing more than a dozen works to please them.
Segovia's distinguished career, spanning most of the 20th century, inspires awe, and the recital's atmosphere resembled a revival meeting. To witness Segovia is to watch a cultural icon. His fervor to continue contributing to society demands respect.
The program featured works by Haydn, Villa-Lobos, Granados, Narva'ez, Sor, Tansman, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Torroba. Segovia played all the works softly, sometimes imperceptibly, in the cavernous Concert Hall. At times Segovia's celebrated technical skills were severely tested, and the recital's pace was soporific.
Yet his graceful phrasing and command of styles remain impressive. The irresistible rhythms and colorful melodies were stated intuitively and precisely.