Petar Jankovic: From Spain to Tango Review

By: Brad Conroy


Petar Jankovic has had a very successful career as a solo classical guitarist, though in recent years he has been pushing the boundaries of what the guitar can do in an ensemble setting. The resulting group, the Petar Jankovic Ensemble, is a string quartet led by the talented guitarist. Over the years, there have been many successful guitar duos, trios, quartets, and others; but rarely does this music capture and combine the essence of the classical guitar with the European tradition of the string quartet. The PJE has to be one of the best, and most convincing, chamber ensembles that feature a guitar in recent years.

The PJE has just released their first CD From Spain to Tango, which features music mostly known to classical guitar audiences. The arrangements on this CD, which were done in collaboration with composer Elliot Bark, are not just simple accompaniments for the guitar, but well thought out, heartfelt, intelligent, and interactive parts where all the members of the ensemble take a leading role.

It is truly amazing how this music sounds so natural, if not better, in this idiom. This will be very clear once you hear the arrangement of Federico Moreno Torroba’s “Andante” from his Sonatina in A-major. Maria Martinez (cello) opens the piece with rich vibrato and a deep sense of expression which makes this familiar melody sound more at home on the cello than any other instrument. The second statement of the melody is done by Sophie Bird (Violin I), Grace Kim (Violin II) and Rose Wollman (Viola), which gives the piece a dramatic lift. The interaction between parts is stunning, and the highly expressive style that Jankovic is known for comes into full spectrum as the sound and dynamic capabilities of the guitar are truly augmented within this ensemble.

Another stand out track on From Spain to Tango is the performance of Astor Piazolla’s “Oblivion.”  Jankovic’s warm tone and expressive play draws you in as he perfectly captures the haunting melody. The string quartets brilliance is also brought to light as they add light pads over the single-line melody, which really helps the harmony stand out while also moving the piece forward in a dramatic way. When the violin takes the melody, as the music reaches its highest crescendo and the guitar drops to accompaniment, you realize that this really is chamber music.

The album also features works by De Falla, Albeniz, and two other tangos by Astor Piazolla that are performed with an incredible rhythmic precision, huge dynamic range, and intensity which beautifully demonstrates the broad range of music that the PJE is able to perform.

From Spain to Tango is an amazing CD that will hopefully be marking the beginning of a new era, idiom, and repertoire where the guitar has an established role within chamber music. The PJE is a brilliant new group that is highly expressive, dynamic, and convincing who will no doubt be delivering their music to applauding fans of both traditional classical and guitar music alike.

One Comment

  1. RAVE REVIEW for the new CD from | Petar Jankovic (5 years ago)

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