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Originally published Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 7:04 PM

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Guitarist Nicolella ranges widely, from delicate classical to edgy modern

Seattle guitarist Michael Nicolella takes both classical and electric turns in his solo concert on Jan. 30.

Seattle Times arts writer

Concert preview

Michael Nicolella

Solo recital, 8 p.m. Saturday, PONCHO Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, 710 E. Roy St., Seattle; $10-$18 (206-726-5011 or

The most delicate classical-guitar touch — and some intricate, edgy electric-guitar assaults.

That's what composer-guitarist Michael Nicolella will be offering in his solo recital this Saturday.

Nicolella, who started teaching at Cornish College of the Arts this past fall, has infiltrated the Seattle music scene on a number of fronts in recent years, performing with Cuban music ensemble Charanga Danzon, chamber group Simple Measures, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra and other outfits.

He has also produced some fine recordings, some featuring his own compositions alongside work by Berio, Takemitsu, Piazzolla and Steve Reich. And he hasn't neglected local composers, recording pieces by Joshua Kohl, Christopher DeLaurenti and David Paul Mesle, among others.

The titles alone of Nicolella's two most recent CDs, "Push" and "Shard," give some notion of the tensile energy and strength behind his playing. Nicolella's own work for solo guitar, "Toccata and Fugue," is a spry, lush, pulsing piece full of varied colors and trick timing. He'll be playing it on Saturday, along with his latest composition.

At the other extreme of Nicolella's repertoire is Jacob Ter Veldhuis' "GRAB IT!" for boombox and electric guitar, a gnarly, raucous piece included on "Shard," where its epithet-strewn vocals warranted the CD's parental advisory — surely a first for a mostly classical-guitar release. Nicolella will perform Veldhuis' more playful (and non-X-rated) "Garden of Love," also for boombox and electric guitar, on Saturday.

The program is rounded out with Nicolella's transcription of Scarlatti's Sonata in E major K.380, four pieces by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, three pieces by Isaac Albéniz, works by contemporary composers Robert Beaser and Laurence Crane — and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" which, in Nicolella's hands, becomes a thing of jazzy, sinewy beauty.

Michael Upchurch:

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