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Michael Lucarelli is charged up. The 37-year-old guitarist, who earned his master’s degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Arizona in 1992, is returning to his old stomping grounds. And the day after his Tucson recital, Lucarelli will head back into the studio to record his third CD- the first dedicated entirely to his works.
"My music seems to be going over really well in concert," he said, speaking by phone from his Salt Lake City touring base. " I’ve just been finding my voice with the instrument." He’s been seeing increased orders for his scores, as well.
A taste of Lucarelli’ s compositional talents can be sampled on his 1996 CD "Collage" (LMS 1002), recorded with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Utah Arts Council. Lucarelli’s "Green Light" recalls Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti in its muscular animation and oblique, unpredictable melodic and harmonic paths. Reminiscent as well of Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas’ powerful work, this driving, perpetual-motion piece could be a dance for the Day of the Dead.
" Collage" is aptly named, displaying as it does the many facets of Lucarelli’ s artistry as he tackles works by Fernando Sor, J.S. Bach, Leo Brouwer, George Gershwin, Luis de Narvaez and New Age vocalist Enya, plus a traditional Japanese work. It is impressive throughout.
From the Mozartean classical grace of his Sor Sonata op 15, no. 2 to the flowing, full contrapuntal interplay of bass and treble lines in J.S. Bach’s Prelude from BWV 997, one is struck with Lucarelli’ s secure technical prowess and idiomatic stylistic depth.
Lucarelli’ s finest moment comes in Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz’s "Mallorca." Swaggering, smoldering and grippingly sensual, his playing revels in the score’s rich panoramic colors while moving like smoke around a Gypsy campfire dancer’s cape.
In his playing, tone and attack, color and heart are precisely weighted, balanced and applied. He brings skill, taste and passion to a carefully selected, flowing recital disk that invites repeated listening.
By Daniel Buckley - Tucson Citizen Music Critic
While Michael Lucarelli's third CD, Mystical Dance, sounds like a wall of classical guitars at times, he's proud to point out that 'all works were performed on one guitar, with no overdubbing or electronic gimmickry," in the liner notes. A transplant from Arizona, Lucarelli plays virtuosic classical guitar without the snooty overtones or exclusionary posturing. Mystical Dance's compositions are as accessible as his technique is jaw-dropping. Tune into the nine minute-plus "Radio" for genuine six-string bliss
Brian Stake By - The Event
Michael Lucarelli—classical guitarist and U alumnus—has released a new record, titled Favorites. The album includes renditions of Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Beethoven and Schubert compositions. Entirely solo, Lucarelli’s ambient guitar style makes for an interesting addition to any collection. An adaptation of “Stairway to Heaven” gives the listener a chance to hear Lucarelli play a song written by the guitarists to whom he’s attributed his early interest in music (Jimmy Page and Robert Plant). A gorgeous take on Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” serves as an album highlight, as well as a dynamic version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Not to be confused with the relentless energy of contemporary rock ’n’ roll, the record is best suited to enhance the background of a peaceful occasion. Lucarelli engineered and produced the record himself in Utah,
University of Utah Chronicle
For several decades, Michael Lucarelli has been the most notable classical guitarist in Salt Lake City, a fixture on the local chamber concert scene and a prolific creator whose work touches on the classical canon but also expands to cover a much-more-eclectic repertoire ranging from “Classical Gas” to “Stairway to Heaven” to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “Corcovado” by Brazilian composer/ musician Antonio Carlos Jobim is perhaps the most interesting of a stellar assemblage, with his perfectly enunciated, never-overstated technique applied to a Latin syncopation, negotiating the steps of this dance as if he invented it. His even-handed style still allows for emotionality, for the music to actually communicate, working the fingerboard as nimbly as a high wire.
Brian Staker - City Weekly
This programme of music form South America commences with a delectable set of four pieces from Garoto (Annibal Augusto Sardinha) ably performed by Michael Lucarelli. He gets to the soul of this music and gives a fine interpretation, whetting the appetite for the rest of the programme. Especially enjoyable is the third movement from which the title of this CD is taken.
Thoughtful phrasing and nice tone colouring is given to the Astor Piazzolla classic, Verano Porteno, and the first of the two Barrios works, Julia Florida. La Catedral is granted just about the right amount of solemnity where required and, for me, the tempo of the final section is spot on- no flashy, over-the-top finger-work for the sake of speed, but more thought given to the music.
Lucarelli handles the deceptively tricky Jorge Morel composition well enough, giving a performance equal to the best of them.
It doesn’t state in the sleeve-notes whether or not this is this player’s first recording or not but if it is Michael Lucarelli has chosen his program well, including among the well known works a few lesser known ones (the Garoto set) and, to me, a completely unheard of work, the study by Carlos Alberto Fonseca. The rather ‘clinical’ title, Etude No. 2 hides a beautiful work of romanticism on a par with anything else in that vein on this recording. It makes one want to hear any other studies by this composer.
The two paired Villa-Lobos compositions work very well together, the sadness of the final part of the prelude being contrasted with the exuberance of one of this composer’s most tuneful works for solo guitar, the Gavota Choro.
The Campo from Carlevaro’s magnificent five preludes concludes a fine, well performed, thoughtful program from a very engaging player.
Steve Marsh - Classical guitar magazine England
Michael Lucarelli and Martin Zwick must have had a blast recording the 14 selections on this CD. And listening to it is just plain fun. Although the music is dominantly Spanish-flavored, it's a surprisingly diverse album, with pieces ranging from the classics to more modern numbers. The album also has a neatly arranged version of "Somewhere my Love" from "Dr. Zhivago" and a campy rendition of Dean Martin's old hit, " That's Amore."
(In case you're wondering, Zwick is the former principal clarinet of the Utah Symphony, and the mandolin, according to the liner notes, is the instrument of his youth. He and Lucarelli have given several concerts locally in the past couple of years.)
Some of the other numbers on this CD include the hauntingly beautiful" Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5" by Heitor Villa-Lobos, the charming "Swan" movement from Camille Saint-Saens" "Carnival of the Animals" (yes, it really works for guitar and Mandolin!), and the lovely "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" by Francisco Tarrega.
So , get this album, sit back and enjoy it
By Edward Reichel - Deseret News
In his sixth album Salt Lake City resident and classical guitarist Michael Lucararelli has recorded instrumental versions of fourteen of the world's most beautiful and finely crafted songs. Songs that are especially dear to those of us who grows up in the 60's when the Beatles made their presence known to a universe in need of the message and music style they delivered. We embraced them(the fab four and their songs) for an unprecedented couple of decades and watched as their music seemed to die. But it could never die. These songs...this music...is timeless and will be listened to decades and even centuries from now just as the classics from past centuries continue to thrill us today.
It was the individual gifts of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and occasionally Star that brought a collective surprise to us. Now , Lucarelli uses his individual interpretive gift to please us further with the same songs in a way and a genre that is pleasantly unexpected. Certainly, the guitar's range and flexibility as well as the performer's skill are expertly displayed on this recording. Even the funky Come Together maintains an even, smooth flow consistent with other tunes like The long and Winding Road and Yesterday. The theme of this record could easily be "relax, be peaceful and remember."
From the ramanticism of Something and Michelle to the rousing From Me to You ans She Loves You to the steady slow tempo of While my Guitar Gently Weeps this is a gem of a recording. On the last track , Hey Jude brings its own set of surprises. Where the na na na's would be vocally, Michael show's why Daniel Buckley wrote, "In his playing, tone and attack, color and heart are precisely weighed, balanced and applied. He brings skill, taste and passion to a carefully selected flowing recital disk that invites repeated listening. I agree with Dan.
By Bob Cantonwine