Full Versions of the Reviews

“.. a master class of classical guitar played with friendly charm and sublime expertise”

The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain ~ Wirral

With a full house inside the 12th century priory, Alison Smith gave a master class of classical guitar played with friendly charm and sublime expertise. Alone on stage, bathed in a single spotlight, Alison Smith proved once again to a Wirral based audience why she is one of the world’s most proficient players. Her craft is there for all to see and hear, as she strikes every note with clear and passionate style. Fully appreciated by the audience and a very welcome return to the Wirral stage.

“The location and performance made for a wonderful evening of classical guitar”

The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain ~ Wirral

On her third visit to the Festival Alison smith played to a near full house at the atmospheric Priory. It really is a wonderful location for classical events like this. The programme consisted of two excellent sets separated by an interval with mulled wine. The location and performance made for a wonderful evening of classical guitar. The sets included pieces by Bach, Chopin, Heitor Villa Lobos, Tarrega and Satie. My favourite was the variations on a theme of Mozart Op9 from the Magic Flute. Alison is a very gifted musician and she seemed comfortable and confident in such a wonderful environment. A graduate from Trinity College of Music London Alison is becoming an International Guitar Festival regular and word is spreading because many in the audience came with friends who had seen her before. Alison will certainly be welcomed back in the future.

“Satisfying Lunchtime Fare from Virtuoso”

Philip Buttall – Plymouth Evening Herald ~ - Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery

While the old Yorkshire saying refers to mills, rather than museums, there was certainly a spot of trouble brewing at the latter before classical guitarist, Alison Smith’s recital. Perhaps since it coincided with half – term, and also featured a popular local artist, anyone who hadn’t booked up had to be turned away at the door, as the house – full signs were already out. Those who had bought their tickets in advance were treated to a varied programme of eminently tuneful music for the instrument, some familiar, and some less so, and where Alison’s expressive playing style was very much in evidence throughout.

Giuliani’s Variations on Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith, which provided an arresting opening, there was never any shortage of panache and virtuosity, which was mirrored, to a large degree in the closing piece, Mertz’s showy Fantaisie Hongroise. Spanish and Latin American composers were naturally well represented, with some especially appealing shorter items from Moreno Torroba’s Castles in Spain. Koshkin’s quirky Usher Valse added a little spice to the proceedings, as did the somewhat exotic colours of Tarrega’s Capricho Arabe.

Despite the enforced late start, Alison appeared mindful of the need for keeping introductions short, so that as much music as possible could be crammed into this suitably light lunchtime repast, which clearly went down a treat with those present, though of little consolation to those who had to miss it!

“Alison is a class act at Art Guild Concert”

Robert Smith – Linlithgow Gazette ~ Linlithgow Arts Guild, Scotland

The performance given by the distinguished classical guitarist Alison Smith at the Arts Guild concerts last Saturday evening might be summed up in one word: enthralling.

Why? A combination of factors, with perhaps the main one being Alison’s sheer virtuosity. In a programme of works which require an astonishing range of technique, this virtuosity shone through. First came a cheerful selection of dances from the 16th century, from Micheal Praetorius’s “Terpsichore”, where we were alerted, among other things, to a beautiful tonal quality effortlessly produced, in both high and low registers. A selection quite different in effect, and yet the same in that it was of dancers, followed; sarabandes and gavottes from J.S.Bach’s Suite BWV995. Now this, like the Praetorius, is a work not composed for solo guitar, and so makes unusual demands on the guitarist; but it was performed to perfection. Then a most intriguing work by the 20th century German composer H.W.Henze, his “Drei Tentos”, a composition built around subtle musical contrasts; very teasing. The next item “Autumn Embers”, by P.R. Buttall (and dedicated to Alison) was a complete change; a dramatic, reflective work in conventional approach which certainly fulfilled the promise of its title.

A switch of atmosphere again in Piazzolla’s “Death of the Angel”. Where a deceptively calm devotional opening moved rapidly to a climax easily described as frightening. The first work after the interval comprised two Etudes by Villa Lobos, Nos11 and 7. Like the Bach dances, breathtaking in the demands made upon the performer and stunningly played. (No7 contained a lovely melody as a descant). Change of mood and style in the next item- and of place. From Japan, with a classical European format of theme and variations, but with the theme Japanese traditional music; Y.Yocoh’s “Sakura”.

The mood changed again with the modern Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s “Praise of the Dance”, a work which, in its unexpected deployments of practically every musical technique- the basic melody almost literally danced about-had Alison demonstrating even more mastery of her instrument. Variety followed yet again, sweetness and calm with Augustine Barrios’ Barcarola and “An Alm for the love of God”, this latter involving marvellous right – hand work. The concluding work, Moreno Torroba’s three section “Sonatina” was, as is proper for the guitar, Spanish; beautifully melodic and rhythmic, with the final Allegro particularly lively, light and humorous, this set off by powerful low register chords of remarkable tone. The audience in the Kirk Hall was packed, justifiably demanded and received, an encore.

“…warmly received by the audience who demanded encores”

Peter Stock – Inverurie Music Society ~ Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire

Inverurie Music’s season got off to an excellent start with a lovely concert from Alison Smith on the classical guitar. A classical guitar concert has become a regular feature of the Inverurie music season. It is always a pleasure to listen and to promote young musicians.

Alison presented a varied programme drawn from all eras of music. The pieces extended from Bach and Sor, through to modern living composers such as Roland Dyens. It was a well balanced concert of favourites and some new items and they were warmly received by the audience who demanded encores. Alison struck up an easy rapport with the audience and her introductions to the pieces, sprinkled with insights and humour, gave her performance a friendly and enjoyable style.

This was a special concert for Alison as it was the first outing of her new Christopher Dean guitar. Although brand new, it had a full sound. Both Alison and the guitar will continue to develop and amaze in the coming years.

“The Priory was full and the audience was clearly enjoying what they heard”

The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain ~ Wirral

Alison demonstrated sheer virtuosity in her delivery of a variety of challenging pieces. In a two set programme of works Alison’s superb technique and sensitivity shone through. First came a cheerful selection of four dances from, I think, the 16th century by Praetorius. These helped Alison demonstrate a beautiful tonal range and quality. This was followed by flowing pieces by J S Bach written originally for the cello. All these pieces place significant demands on a guitarist and Alison rose magnificently to the challenge. Pieces by German composer Henze followed and then a short break.

The Priory was full and the audience was clearly enjoying what they heard. After the break the second set did not disappoint and featured several more challenging pieces. The acoustics were good and the setting of an old Priory seemed just right for the mood of the evening. A great night and at the end the audience ‘yelled’ for more but that was it- the Priory fell silent.

“If you enjoy classical guitar do not miss an opportunity to hear Alison Smith”

Jacqui Fogwill – Tavistock Times ~ St Eustachius Church, Tavistock

The audience at Alison Smith’s recital in Tavistock Parish Church on July 7 was well rewarded for braving the stormy weather. Born in Devon Alison is a classical guitarist of considerable renown who first studied the guitar in Plymouth, then at Trinity College of Music, London. She performs nationwide, plays in masterclasses, takes workshops, lectures and is involved in outreach work. She has a truly sensitive touch, and to watch her deft fingers at work is a pleasure in itself.

Her programme included works from the 16th century to the present day, some transcribed for the guitar, some written for it, each with abrief introduction about the composer and piece. Four dances by the 16th Century composer Praetorius immediately established Alison’s mastery of her instrument. J S Bach adapts well for the guitar. Fernando Sor’s lively and tuneful variations on a theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute showed off Alison’s sensitivity to piano and forte. In contrast to these items, Dyen’s Saudade no 3, a blend of African and Brazilian folk music sounds like a clever improvisation. Two rhapsodic studies by Villa Lobos were followed by a Chopin waltz, unusual because not many Chopin pieces are suitable for the guitar. Sakura, theme and variations on a Japanese folk song, by Yuquijiro Yocoh, conjures up vivid pictures of cherry blossom. Augustin Barrios often improvised when performing. An eccentric character, his two pieces were surprisingly melodious and romantic. A sonata by Moreno Torroba was followed by enthusiastic applause, and a batuque by Reis as encore.

“Alison Smith performed with both brilliance and heart”

Philip. R. Buttall – The Herald, Plymouth ~ Plymouth Music Accord Music Festival

A criticism often made of some of the younger generation of performers is that they are fine exponents from the technical standpoint, but so often appear to play with less feeling than some of their older colleagues. Classical guitarist Alison Smith certainly has all the necessary youthful techniques to execute the most demanding of pieces with real aplomb, but she also brings to every performance a highly mature level of expression and which always proves so much more important than simply being able to play all the right notes at the right time. Furthermore, this is always finely judged to accord perfectly with the style of the work performed, and mindful of its historical perspective. There was just the right amount of poise and tongue-in-cheek humour in Sor’s Variation on a Theme of Mozart, an almost pianistic, yet highly effective rubato in a Chopin waltz arrangement, the exotic textures in Roland Dyens’s Saudade No 3, and Castilian elegance in Tarrega’s well-known Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

This was altogether a delightful mix of music for the guitar which was made the more enjoyable by Alison’s pithy and informative introductions. If the recital was allowed to overrun slightly on this occasion, there didn’t seem to be any major complaints from Alison’s delighted listeners, who certainly seemed to be getting more than their money’s worth!

“She really did make her guitar sing”

Margaret Tredwell-Dorset Guitar Society ~ Dorset Guitar Society

Well, I feel inspired by Alison’s playing! Alison gave a beautiful recital at our February meeting. She really did make her guitar sing. You could hear every word, comma and full stop….I enjoyed every single piece that Alison played, but it made my day that she included the slide in ‘Julia florida’. I have not enjoyed a performance of it so much for a long time.