This was a well-attended meeting with several new faces. It started, as ever, with a good chinwag. Rob eventually succeeded in getting everyone to sit down so that playing could begin
Rob Mackillop was up first, with his very recently delivered early flamenco guitar by the American luthier Stephen Faulk.
The pieces all came from a method for guitar dating from 1902, by Rafael Marin. The first piece was a Peteneras and this was followed by a tremolo study which uses a two note tremolo rather than the more common three or four note tremolo.
Next came a beautiful Solea by Julian Arcas, the teacher of Tárrega. This Solea is much shorter than the one published in Arcas’s Collected Works, and possibly the better for it.
Clearly, flamenco guitar is very different today than it was at the end of the 19th century and it is exactly this early flamenco guitar music that Rob is keen to explore.
Next up was Bill Samson, playing a Torres replica of his own construction. He chose to play two easy studies by Ferdinando Carulli, a waltz and an andantino. Despite their simplicity, both of these pieces have great musical possibilities for the performer. Bill played very sensitively, making it a pleasure to hear these old, possibly worn-out pieces afresh.
Then Philip Lord played a G-major prelude by Sylvius Leopold Weiss, on his beautiful Michael Lowe baroque lute.
Mario Papini, who is studying with Tiziano Bagnati in Italy, and medieval lute with Peppe Frana, is visiting Scotland to learn more about Scottish lute music. He entertained us by playing two estampitas from the London Codex as well as a well-known 14th century frotto. Chris Elmes lent him his 5c mediaeval lute by Bill Samson. Mario played with confidence and virtuosity, giving shape to music which can often sound rambling.
Stuart Mcluckie turned in his best performance so far, in four pieces from Playfair including Jenny Plucks Pears, Newcastle, and Parson’s Farewell, on his 8c James Marriage lute. His playing was confident and his performance was engaging and entertaining.
Eric Thomas brought his Italian-style theorbo, by James Marriage with subsequent work by Klaus Jacobson. This is the first time that a theorbo has been heard at a SLEGS meeting. He played pieces by Kapsberger – a passacaglia, a toccata, and a gagliarda. These were very well-received indeed and it is to be hoped that Eric can be persuaded to entertain us with more theorbo music at a future meeting.
Jamie Akers attended his first SLEGS meeting and played some of the best-loved, but technically demanding music from the Elizabethan era on his beautiful eight course lute by Stephen Gottlieb. The first three pieces were from Robert Dowland’s Varietie of Lute Lessons – a Pavin by Alfonso Ferrabosco, The King of Denmark’s Galliard by John Dowland, and the Fantasia by Gregorio Huwet. He completed the set with a heartfelt performance of his favourite piece of lute music – the Farewell fantasia by John Dowland. Members were stunned not only by Jamie’s beautiful interpretations of these pieces, but also by with the speed with which he achieved his p-i runs. This led to a discussion of how to practice these.
Gordon Ferries made a welcome return and played music by Mertz on his 1853 Panormo guitar. These were Nocturnal, Liebeslied and Romance. It is wonderful to hear this very romantic music played so well on a guitar of this age. Be sure to attend Gordon’s forthcoming concert of Mostly Mertz during the Edinburgh Festivals: https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/590867-guitars-for-st-cecilias/
After the performances the group continued to discuss the music and the instruments, having the opportunity to try out each other’s instruments.
Thanks go to Chris Elmes for welcoming us to his flat, which is perfect for performances of this scale.