"ONE day he will be famous." It's a few years now since I penned that phrase here about guitarist Sean Shibe, the youngest student ever admitted to the-then RSAMD, where his contributions to a variety of performances during his teens were never less than extraordinary.
On Thursday night, with the guitarist now in his 20th year, studying in Graz, signed up as the latest BBC New Generation Artist, and with an impressive performance with the SSO and conductor Andrew Manze now under his belt, I think we can safely say Sean Shibe is on the road.
Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez is the quintessential (the only?) masterpiece for classical guitar and orchestra. But it remains a nightmare of balancing between David and Goliath forces, even with an orchestra exercising maximum discretion: it actually doesn't really work, other than in the recording studio. But with Shibe employing discreet amplification and playing with nimble virtuosity and lashings of soul; Manze and the SSO ultra-delicate in accompaniment; and a refreshing absence of squeaks and scrapes from fingers crossing frets, this version, with a few intrusive blots of poor synchronisation between soloist and orchestra, was probably as good as it gets.
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Overall it was a very good night for Manze and the SSO, with a lucid account of John Maxwell Geddes's classic orchestral study Ombre, which highlighted the expressive intensity of this vintage JMG piece as much as its pictorial depiction of darkness and light; and a full-on, seethingly contrapuntal and dramatically vibrant performance of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, prefaced by Manze's orchestration of the lovely Adagio for Glass Harmonica.