By: Brad Conroy
Petar Jankovic’ Leyenda is an incredible recording that features a mix of standard works by Granados, Villa-Lobos, Albeniz, and Tansman, along with more recent additions to the classical guitar repertoire by Merlin and Dyens. Jankovic is a strong personality on the instrument, who possesses his own unique and distinguished style of playing. As one would expect from such a seasoned performer, his interpretations and performances are solid throughout the album.
Jankovic does not fit neatly into the modern idiom of classical guitar perfection; though he does play the pieces with precision, grace, dynamics, and style. Jankovic has a character to his playing that is reminiscent of artists like Segovia or Bream. He performs as if he is conducting an orchestra, bringing every performance to life with his incredible dynamic palette and knowledge of the instrument and its repertoire.
Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Cinq Preludes” begins the album with Jankovic breathing new life into these oft played pieces with his rhythmic precision, deep sense of expression and obvious admiration for the composer. He manages to avoid playing these pieces too fast, or too slow, which he might have been tempted to do after having played and taught these pieces for many years. It is easy to hear his artistry and mastery of the guitar on these familiar pieces.
“Danza Espanola No. 5″ by Enrique Granados is another one of the many highlights on Leyenda. Jankovics’ personalized approach to the right hand thumb execution can be heard in the opening measures of this piece. Those have seen him perform will know that Jankovic puts his whole arm into the bass notes, giving them an enormous sound that really captures the essence of the guitar with his myriad use of tonal colors. Jankovics’ interpretation of this piece is unique and exciting, providing a new vision of a standard piece.
“Suite del Recuerdo” by Jose Luis Merlin is an example of a newer composition for classical guitar, one that has become a part of the popular repertoire of students and concert guitarists alike. The music itself is strikingly beautiful, with Jankovic giving perhaps the finest interpretation and performance of the opening movement “Evocacion” in recent recorded memory. His interpretation of this suite, alongside the more traditional repertoire, showcases the dexterity of Jankovic’ ability as a performer and his deep knowledge of a wide breadth of the classical guitar anthology.
Jankovic gives an incredible performance on Leyenda with his artistry and individual style putting him in a category with the likes of Segovia and Bream. Jankovic plays with virtuosic precision, grace, expression, and with a unique character to his sound, something that will appeal to both guitarists and non-musicians alike.