Review by Larry Aynesmith, Sierra Nevada Guitar Society



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 baritone guitars.

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:

Larry Aynesmith
Sierra Nevada Guitar Society

Home | Accessories | Articles | Builders | Gallery | For Sale | Composers | Guitarists | Movies | Sheet Music | Free PDFs | Recordings | Teachers | Radio | Group | Contact Us