Douglas Niedt's (pronounced "neet") listeners around the world know him best for his love of fresh, diverse, and emotionally engaging repertoire performed with incredible energy, technical perfection, and most of all, emotional depth.
One of the fabulous things about his playing is not only is he true to each musical style he encounters, but he has an uncanny, magical ability to change the very sound of his guitar to suit each piece. Witness the lushness of the classical El Noi de la Mare, the hard-edged groove of the pop-African Mombasa, the raw percussive attack on the Argentine folk dance Misionera, or the delicate bittersweet quality of Cavatina. All are played on the same guitar and recorded identically. Part of Doug's magic is how he makes the guitar speak the distinct language of each piece.
Several elements have contributed to Doug's love for diverse repertoire and his ability to bring it to life on the classical guitar. His father, an amateur guitarist, gave him his first lessons at the age of seven. Doug's interest in music was stimulated by his father's encouragement to listen to and explore the entire spectrum of music. Doug's early studies in the Segovia Master Classes in Spain and with Narciso Yepes, Christopher Parkening, Jorge Morel, and Oscar Ghiglia laid the foundation for him to develop his technique to the high level demanded by his unique repertoire-a level beyond that needed for the traditional literature. His general musical training was in the classical conservatory tradition with studies at the Juilliard School and the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City where he is now head of the guitar program.
But impeccable musical credentials, technical wizardry, and critical acclaim do not tell the real story of Douglas Niedt. Perhaps that is best told by a fan in Bay City, Texas who, after hearing Doug in concert, wrote in a letter to the editor of the Daily Tribune, "Critics are falling all over themselves to assure us that Niedt's 'playing is highly colored, his pitch exact, his phrasing precise'. Well yeah, certainly, but I haven't seen any mention of what it is the man really does with his music. He takes melodies and evokes again for his listeners the visions and ideals, the passions, if you will, of those who first set them down. Glad I'm not a critic, because I don't think critics are supposed to say things like-this fellow plays with his heart, not his fingers. And it's with your heart that your hear him." That is the spell of Pure Magic.
PLAY LIST and Information About the Songs
1. Jugueteando (Jorge Morel) Cheska Music
Jugueteando (Spanish for playing or romping) was written by Doug's favorite and most influential teacher, Jorge Morel. It contains a multitude of coloristic effects including abrupt changes of tone quality, glissandi (slides), and percussion.
2. Misionera (Fernando Bustamente, arr. Jorge Morel) Sadaic Latin Copyrights, Inc.
This impassioned and driving Argentine folk dance originates from a province in northern Argentina called Misiones. It evokes the image of the alluring, seductive woman from this region, the Misionera.
3. Dancers In Love (Duke Ellington, arr. Niedt) Songwriters Guild of America
Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in Washington, D.C. where his father was a butler at the White House. His roots as a pianist went back to the era of ragtime and stride piano-Harlem's version of ragtime. While Dancers In Love (also titled Naivete) uses some stride piano style, it also contains the modern chromatic harmony and clear form that have established Ellington as the most important composer in jazz history. Composed in 1945, but seldom played in later years, Dancers In Love (from Ellington's Perfume Suite) was written for piano, string bass and drums. It contains the musical sophistication, humor, and the earthiness of black jazz piano music that have blended to become the music of style and wit we associate with the name Duke Ellington. And yes, that's Doug snapping his fingers as he plays, just as the Ellington trio did when they performed the piece.
4. Brian Boru's March (anonymous, arr. Niedt)
In his hour of victory at the Battle of Clontarf, Brian Boru, the eleventh century High King of Ireland, was slain as he knelt in prayer. As you listen to Doug play, you can hear the faint sounds of the victorious Irish army approaching in the distance until they are upon you in full force, then marching away off into the countryside paying tribute to their fallen hero, marching to the strains of Brian Boru's March. The fades are accomplished entirely by Doug's touch on the strings, not electronically.
5. Danza (Antonio Ruiz-Pipo) SGAE and Spirit Two Music
Danza is from Cancion y Danza written in the 1950's for guitarist Narciso Yepes. Although Ruiz-Pipo was very much the Spaniard, curiously the Danza has elements of fife and drone effects characteristic of some Celtic music.
6. Sigma (Rolf Lovland, arr. Niedt) Universal-Polygram Intl. Pub. Inc.
Doug and his son Alex happened to hear the Irish-Norwegian violin-keyboard duo Secret Garden on a PBS television special. They were very taken by the music. Alex began playing the music on the piano. Doug thought that several of the songs were well suited to the delicate intimacy of the guitar. In Sigma, an almost spiritual mood is achieved with the use of beautiful harmony supporting a Gregorian chant-like melody.
7. Hyfrydol (Roland Pritchard, arr. Niedt, Sutherland, Manz)
Hyfrydol is the title of an original Welsh melody from around 1830 used in the well known hymns Our Great Savior, Alleluia Sing To Jesus and others. Niedt's arrangement is based on one recorded by the great American guitarist, Christopher Parkening. It is a vibrant and uplifting song of celebration and praise.
8. Nocturne (Rolf Lovland, arr. Niedt) Univeral-Songs of Polygram Intl. Inc.
This is another absolutely gorgeous piece by Secret Garden. Written in 1992, Nocturne's combination of melancholy and simplicity has made it popular worldwide.
9. El Humahuaqueno (Edmundo Zaldivar, arr. Jorge Morel) Southern Music Pub.
"Humahuaqueno" is the name for an inhabitant of Humahuaca, Argentina. El Humahuaqueno is a very colorful song written in the form of an Argentine folk dance.
10. Mombasa (Tommy Emmanuel, arr. Niedt) Universal-MCA Music Pub.
On the recommendation of a cab driver, Doug went to hear the Australian steel-string acoustic guitarist Tommy Emmanuel at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society convention in Nashville. Impressed by Tommy's playing, showmanship, and energy, Doug has added some of his compositions and arrangements to his concert repertoire. Mombasa, written by Emmanuel while touring Africa, is an engaging blend of African rhythms, Nashville funk, and smooth Chet Atkins-like melodic lines.
11. Tango en Skai (Roland Dyens, revised Niedt) Theodore Presser Co.
Guitarist Roland Dyens improvised the Tango at a party in Paris in 1978. It has become one of his most famous compositions. He describes it as "a joke" or imitation--indeed "skai" is a French caricature for fake leather. Dyens advises the performer not to take the piece too seriously, but rather to recreate the party atmosphere in which it was born. Doug takes his advice by recording it here with several added improvisations.
12. El Noi de la Mare (anonymous, arr. Llobet, Niedt)
El Noi de la Mare or The Son of the Virgin is a traditional Catalan Christmas song. Doug plays a version arranged by guitarist Miguel Llobet as an introduction followed by his own variations. On the day the great Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia passed away, the printed music to this song was found open on his music stand-possibly the last piece the Maestro ever played.
13. Lover (Richard Rodgers, arr. Jorge Morel) Famous Music Corp.
Lover is from the landmark musical Love Me Tonight released in 1932. The musical score is by Richard Rodgers, a composer whose influence on the American musical theater is without peer. Lover was sung by Jeanette MacDonald in the film but is best known in the version made famous by Peggy Lee-which Rodgers disliked intensely.
14. Cavatina (Stanley Myers, arr. Niedt) EMI Glenwood Music Corp.
Doug's father heard Cavatina performed by guitarist John Williams in its original version for two guitars with light orchestral accompaniment. He suggested to Doug that it would sound great as a guitar solo. The bittersweet reflective quality of this song is perfectly captured by Doug's masterful arrangement.
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3. Dancers In Love
4. Brian Boru's March
9. El Humahuaqueno
11. Tango en Skai
12. El Noi de la Mare