Saffire is the greatest
guitar act in all of the world.
Let me qualify that. Occasionally I will write brief reviews
of classical guitar acts or events. It isn't hard for me to write
a good review for any guitar act that has basic competency and
tries to make at least a little bit of music, as long as they're
not pompous fools. As for proclaiming any act the greatest, it
is only my current opinion. One could say the same of LAGQ, the
Romeros, David Russell, Ana
Vidovic, John Williams, the list goes on. But I have never
heard any guitar act in the last few years that plays with such
an incredibly cohesive and vibrant ensemble. Saffire's talent
is immense, their arrangements top-notch and the compositions
that have been written for them are some of the best.
Karin Schaupp is quite beautiful and immensely talented. Slava
Grigoryan is immensely talented, I'd like to hear him and/or
Karin solo sometime. Gareth Koch is a major talent who is the
central "machine" and arranger. Original Saffire member
Anthony Field recently withdrew from the group. According to
what I heard, he didn't like touring and parted amicably. Leonard
Grigoryan is new
to the group. He more than held down his parts. He's been playing
since he was four years old, his brother is Slava, his father
is a famous concert violinist, so I don't think there is much
to worry about.
A new composition by the Australian composer Nigel
Westlake called "Six Fish" is an instant guitar
classic. Propelled by Koch, Saffire brings tasteful flamenco
arrangements which reach classical standards of arrangement but
retain the fire. I don't know of any flamenco-inspired music
by other guitarists which reaches this level of perfection, especially
Saffire's Rumba Nostalgica, originally by Juan Martin. They play
some Aussie-Celtic pieces that are quite vibrant. Saffire even
plays an arrangement of a Deep
Purple rock song. Some criticize this although it's great
music! If any guitar act in the world becomes associated with
a new eternal masterpiece it just might be Saffire, in addition
to the acts I mentioned above.
Saffire's live ensemble playing is every bit as exceptional
as their recorded music. This is unusual in the guitar world.
They also expand the range of guitar with 8-string, octave and
Saffire will not return to the USA until 2007. We may not
get them in Tahoe again as they are a major act and usually play
to audiences of 500 to 2000 rather than 150 at Tahoe. In the
meantime, if you are curious about my proclamation you can order
their two magnificent
CDs. They are not yet available in the USA but can be ordered
through Saffire's web site: www.saffire.com.au.