Guitarist Christopher Parkening is a master of nuance and unflamboyant virtuosity, as he demonstrated yet again when he returned to Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena on Sunday. His demanding recital, sponsored by the Pasadena Junior Chamber of Commerce, was a benefit for the Neighborhood Music School.
Parkening illuminated musical structure (Dowland's Fantasia), revealed a wonderful palette of soft-toned pastels (Couperin's "Les Barricades Mysterieuses"), and ranged from moody and thoughtful introspection (three preludes by Villa-Lobos) to extroverted scene-painting (Carlo Domeniconi's "Koyunbaba").
His involvement in all the music was keen and confident, and signaled by the slightest kind of body English. Other familiar works included Ponce's Suite in D (in the manner of Scarlatti) and the quite contrasting Prelude and Gigue (in the styles of Weiss).
Seamlessly seconded by colleague David Brandon, Parkening also played Byrd's "La Volta," John Bull's "The King's Hunt," Thomas Geoghegan's Two Spanish Folk Songs and Jorge Morel's "Cancion y Danza Finale."
Encores included, with Brandon, "The Miller's Dance" from Falla's "The Three-Cornered Hat" and a traditional folk song; and, alone, a Catalan lullaby as arranged by Segovia.
Before the final encore, Parkening spoke directly and simply of the impact youthful music education and opportunity had had on him and his career--in his case, the Young Musicians Foundation.