If you like classical guitar and want to escape the bustling madness that is the Mile at 1pm in the middle of the Fringe, then you are going to enjoy Jonathan Prag’s hour long recital. The recital may be nothing unique, but it is simple and enjoyable enough to be worth the admission fee.
Prag’s recital is an escape from the madness of the Fringe and a much needed one
The pieces Prag plays are all pleasant. He starts off in the 17th century with two pieces by Turlough O’Carolan, both close to indistinguishable from each other unless you are paying extremely close attention, which is a shame for casual audiences. Prag follows that up with the latter two movements from Bach’s Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, which he tells us was thought to have originally been written for the lute.
Prag continues through the ages, landing in the early 20th Century and performing the vividly introspective piece, La Catedral, by Augustin Barrios. The performance is excellent, close to perfect when it comes to execution, but once again the show lacks any real excitement and up to this point feels very much in Prag’s comfort zone.
The absolute highlight of the show comes next with the eccentric and emotive piece by Nikita Koshkin, Usher Waltz. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Koshkin’s epic composition is the most impressive and complicated of all the pieces and is head and shoulders above the others Prag recites, with the guitarist truly excelling. The last piece, Suite del Recuerdo is another comforting piece.
If I sound slightly underwhelmed, this is down to the fact that despite my overall enjoyment of the show, the very reserved performance from Prag himself takes away some of the emotion that the music conveys. For a piece as emotive as Koshkin’s Usher Waltz, which really is a fantastically interesting and enjoyable example of contemporary classical guitar, those emotions of fear, tension and horror should be bursting through the seams of the performer.
All in all, Prag’s recital is an escape from the madness of the Fringe and a much needed one. It is enjoyable and worth the money and is a well-worked exhibition of classical guitar playing.