Fusion Guitar: Classical and Percussive Guitar

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (music): Fusion Guitar: Classical and Percussive Guitar at C Too (Venue 4). Review by Jim Gilchrist

A few random tunes and a few random tunings is how Declan Zapala describes his solo guitar show. He tends to be self-deprecatory but he shouldn’t be. He’s a superb guitarist, if perhaps over-inclined to go into great detail, for the benefit of aficionados, of the unorthodox tunings he uses. His music, however, communicates directly, often dazzlingly so.

His programme ranged from his own compositions, which frequently, and to dramatic effect, utilise the body of his classical guitar as a percussion instrument, to work by contemporary and classical composers.

He opened with the beefy, bluesy chords and a percussive rattle of Eric Roche’s brief but pithy The Perc-U-Lator and moved on to the same composer’s Angel, limpid and melodic, with a nicely rounded tone. His own compositions included the energetically cascading Philomena, named after the recent film (and associated with a charity he promotes which helps reunite families split by forced adoption), and Crystal, inspired by Richard Dawkins’s Selfish Gene, which prompted a homily on particle physics and the beginnings of DNA while he tuned up, but proved to be a richly sonorous creation, glittering with harmonics.

In contrast there were two well-known Bach preludes, transposing with ease from lute and cello to guitar, while two movements from the Turkish-based Italian composer Carlo Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba displayed an impressive contemporary take on Turkish folk music, with its drone-based scordatura tuning and an intensepresto section which could almost have been an “easternised” Bach piece – brilliantly played and anything but random.

Until 16 August. Today 5:30pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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