At yesterday's afternoon recital by classical guitarist Francesc de Paula Soler, at Georgetown University's intimate, chamber music-friendly McNeir Hall, the most impressive performance came at the end. In a rambling but likable crossover piece he composed, "Lady M, Little Rolling Stone," he played dazzling solos with his left hand on the fingerboard, unleashed a battery of right-hand percussive effects on the body of the guitar, and engaged in some creative pitch-bending on blues-tinged melodies.

Elsewhere in a program that included music by Sor, Tarrega, Ponce and Piazzolla, Soler showed himself to be unusually sensitive to color and the rhapsodic rise and fall of the phrases . But there were far too many buzzing strings, poorly articulated notes and garbled ornaments in evidence. What's excusable in loose-limbed popular fare like flamenco doesn't always hack it on the classical stage: It's unlikely a concert violinist, pianist or wind player could make a career with playing this unfinished and accident-prone.

Still, it was hard not to sympathize with the guy during the recital-opening suite of "Cervantes Dances" by Sanz (where his technique was at its most fallible). There, Soler had to put up with a screaming toddler, a roaming flash-photographer, noisy latecomers, a cell phone from hell and the Reagan National Airport flight path.

Even Segovia would have faltered.

-- Joe Banno

Francesc de Paula Soler mixed guitar styles.