Eliot Fisk at the “Saitenspreungen” Festival in Bad Aibling, Germany
The American born, citizen of the world (“Weltbuerger”) , Eliot Fisk, who looks a bit like Woody Allen when he plays the part of the elegant Professor, teaches in 5 languages at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. At his concert in Bad Aibling as part of the “Saitenspreungen” series he spoke in excellent German about his program that included “only” works of Bach and Paganini. Fisk compared the two composers with film directors Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman: like them Bach and Paganini are operalike, colorful, surprising. Fisk sees Paganini as Fellini; and Bach, profound, the absolute master, as Bergman.
When Fisk plays, with his head very near to the guitar, he seems to melt into the instrument. He plays the guitar not just with his fingers but with his entire body, which he often practically raises off the chair and at times almost violently, at times rocking quietly. When he plays the Capricci op. 1, of the devilʼs violinist Paganini, Fisk himself turns into a “devilʼs guitarist” to whom neck breaking leaps, insanely difficult arpeggios, lightening runs, and quick position changes apparently present no problems whatsoever. During all these difficulties he can still create clearly recognizable melodic and harmonic structures which certainly dance along the outer edges of what is possible on the guitar.
On the other hand, in the Sarabande of the Bach lute Suite BWV 995 he conjures a sudden meditative stillness: a single melodic line that leaves us breathless. Rather than the breath of the devil here one felt that of God. Surging fullness, mathematic concision in the fugues, delicate trills with a single finger, artistic virtuosity and the breathtaking dance of the fingers was also at hand in Bachʼs Cello Suite BWV 1009, like everything else in the program also transcribed by Fisk. This devilʼs violinist contrasted with the breath of God was always lucid, able to articulate walking bass lines, dramatize the conclusions of fugal movements and differentiate between leading melody and accompanying figuration.
As described by presenter, Thomas Jahn, the audience experienced a literally once in a lifetime concert, because Eliot Fisk played this program only on this evening. The delighted audience applauded for 3 encores before the Guitar professor smiling quietly departed from the stage and the still astounded public.
Rainer W. Janka
From original review in German
„Diesen Musiker muss man einfach gehört haben”, sagt Johannes Erkes bei der Eröffnung des 13. internationalen Gitarrenfestivals „Seitensprünge“ in Bad Aibling. Gemeint ist “Amerikas König der klassischen Gitarre”, Eliot Fisk, der am Mittwoch, 14 November 2012, im Kurhaus Bad Aibling auftritt. Der US-Amerikaner ist ein Star auf den Konzertbuhnen der Welt. Andres Segovia war sein Lehrer und Wegbegleiter. Dieses Mal kommt er mit der einmaligen Kombination aus Cappricci von Paganini und Suiten von Bach zum Gitarrenfestival.