Report of 28th Meeting: 8th December, 2018

A well-attended meeting, save for the first ever absence of Bill Samson, who was scheduled to present a talk about his memories of the early days of the Lute Society in the UK. That talk has been postponed until the next meeting. In the meantime, we wish Bill a quick recovery from the flu bug that has him in its grip!

New face to the society, Joanna Allsop performed from 58 Easy Pieces (a Lute Society publication) “The Old Man” and a Buffins, on a lute made by her old man, with the CD-Rom by David Van Edwards. It was immediately clear that, although a beginner lute player, Joanna is an experienced musician – violin and school teaching. Once she gets her lute kitted out with the correct strings, I’m sure she’ll be giving us all a run for our money before long. I look forward to her subsequent visits. Welcome aboard, Joanna!

Chris Jupp followed with his Bill Samson-made 4c guitar, which has a very projecting quality. Chris stood with a strap, and played selections from Christopher Page’s “Guitar In Tudor England” book: 2 variations on a Passey Measure (originally from the Osborne Commonplace Book); “To my pains and boredom”, and a branle de poictou, both by Le Roy from mid-16th-century France. I’m happy to report that the rhythmical articulation by Chris was excellent, just how these pieces should be performed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the guitar at all, as it was completely obscured by a rather large music stand. Let’s see the instrument next time, Chris!

SLEGS stalwart, Stuart McLuckie, came an other good rhythmical interpretation of some French music, this time a tourdion on his 8c lute. This was an unusual piece, which I for one wouldn’t mind hearing again. Good stuff, Stuart!

Another new face, this one going by the name of Andrew Atkinson, made the trip from Newcastle, to share his 1930s and 40s Gibson archtop guitars. It was fascinating to hear and play these historical instruments, one with parallel bracing, the other with X bracing, and the sound difference was appreciated.

Rob MacKillop, who rarely seems to play the same instrument twice in a row at SLEGS, entertained with some 19th-century Russian guitar music, on a decidedly 21st-century guitar by local Russian luthier, Roman Kuznetsov. The Russian guitar is tuned DGBdgbd’, and Rob’s enthusiasm for it has resulted in a dedicated website, constructed within three weeks of getting hold of a 7-string Russian guitar:  https://sarenkoandco.com Rob played “As from Beyond a Forest” by Andrei Sychra, the patriarch of the Russian guitar. It’s a beautiful piece, which the audience appreciated. Roman pulled out a six-string guitar in Russian style, but tuned with EADGBE strings, upon which Rob played Tárrega’s “Lagrima”.

Here is a video Rob made a week before, of the same piece by Sychra:


Guest of honour (for the third time) was Jelma van Amersfoort from Amsterdam, who brought with her a beautiful reconstruction of a rare six-course guitar by Pages, made by Sebastian Nunez of Utrecht. Such guitars form the link between the five-course baroque guitar and the six single strings of the classical guitar. There is not exactly a mountain of surviving repertoire, but what does survive is often worth hearing, and Jelma played …..

It is always great to hear Jelma perform, and we are so pleased she travels from the Netherlands to play for us. The repertoire was fascinating, especially the “El Laberinto ó Circulo Armonico (Harmonic Labyrinth) by Fernando Ferandiere, which almost defies analysis. There followed the Fandango by Mathias Jose Maestro, a semi-improvised dance piece from Peru, and the Folias by Salvador Castro – friend, compatriot and publisher of Fernando Sor – which was brilliantly played by Jelma.

Jelma was joined by Rob for the final two pieces, Duo 3 by Ferandiere, which was played with aplomb. Great stuff!

There followed a scrum, as people got their hands on various instruments. At one point Rob was seen singing Saint James’ Infirmary Blues, while strumming on a 1930s Gibson archtop, while Chris wailed a few blues licks. Guitarists!

Thanks to Glo for the foties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Date of Next Meeting: 8th December, 2018

The 28th meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 8th December, 2018.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 27th Meeting: 15th September, 2018

A low-numbered, but high-quality turnout today. Kicked off by Bill Samson, playing his recreation of a circa 1912 Manuel Ramirez guitar. The two pieces by Sagreras, Lessons 6 and 9 from his second volume were despatched consummately, and the word charming would go a long way to summing them up. The Julio Sagreras method is less weel-kent in the UK than the Americas, but deserves to be better known in Europe. All the pieces in the six volumes were composed by Sagreras (a pupil of Tárrega) himself, and are all of a similar quality. Bill got to play them twice, when late-comers arrived. The first time through had good moments, the second time, just perfect.

Not having anything prepared, Rob MacKillop borrowed Bill’s guitar for two pieces by Augustin Barrios, a little-heard Prelude in Dm, and the more famous barcarolle, Julia Florida. These are beautiful pieces, and Rob brought the most out of them.

It has been wonderful to watch the emergence of Chris Jupp as a recital-level performer, as today’s all-too short sequence of four pieces by Pierre Attaignant attest. The first three are La Brosse, subtitled bass dance, recoup, and touridon. They were followed by a pavane. Well done, sir!

Dorothee Burchard treated us to her best playing yet, with another dance by Attaignant, this time from Stefan Lundgren’s Method for the Renaissance Lute. Previously, Dorothee’s nerves got the better of her, but today she held her nerve, and presented a decent performance, which augurs well for future development. Well done, Dorothee. She was then joined by her teacher, Eric Thomas, for a delightful dander through Greensleeves, from an unspecified source.

Eric Thomas played us out with a fine programme of 6c repertoire from Spinacino (Ricercar 14), Firminus Caron (Benedictus), Hayne van Ghizeghem (Eric’s own intabulation of De tous bien plaine), and Dalza (a ricercar, and – with Chris Jupp playing the tenor part – the famous Calata). This was a fascinating recital, beautifully played, and with the added interest of the performer’s own intabulation. Eric is really developing as a concert artist.

Hopefully we can have a Christmas gathering, with a few more attendees. Start preparing!

Date of Next Meeting: 15th September, 2018

The 27th meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 15th September, 2018.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 26th Meeting: 16 June, 2018

Well, a very busy and somewhat unusual meeting, with new faces, and some interesting discussion. It was good to see new attendees – always welcome. Many thanks to all for turning out on such a dreich day.

Rob MacKillop started proceedings with a 15-minute recital, on a completely gut strung theorbo by Jiri Cepelak. It was great to hear a theorbo played with appropriate strings, made by Damian Dlugolecki ( http://damianstrings.com ) Rob played a Passacaglia in Dm, Capona, and Kapsberger, by Kapsberger; Corrente VI sopra l’Alemana, and Variations on the Romanesca by Piccinini; and La Royalle by Robert de Visée. He discussed the origins and construction of the theorbo, and one over-excited reviewer 😉 claimed the performance was “Brilliant. A very convincing performance of subtle music”.

Bill Samson played the twin guitar of the one he played at the last meeting. This time it was a spruce-top Samson guitar (after Manuel Ramirez), thought by some to be brighter than the previous cedar instrument. Bill played a Divertimento by Bartolomé Calatayud, and lessons 8 and 9 from Book 2 of the Guitar method by Julio Sagreras. We were indeed charmed, both by the charming sound of the instrument, but also of the charming manner of the performer. It was charming!

Yasuhiro Nakashima, in what was to be his last visit for at least a year, performed the lute Toccata VII by Kapsberger. Typically, the toccata brought together fast scalic runs punctuated by chords, and quasi-fugal imitative passages, which covered the whole range of his 8c lute. He also played his own arrangement of the beautiful Courante and Double from the Panmure 5 manuscript.

Our resident Texan, Rebecca Laird, presented a talk on early Blues music from Texas, with a very interesting mention of women artistes, such as Sippie Wallace (The Texas Nightingale), Victoria Spivey (Queen Victoria), and Osceola Mays, none of whom I had heard of – fascinating stuff. Rebecca has a career ahead of her as an academic researcher who can also play bad-ass-blues, should she want it. 🙂

Chris Jupp deftly wound his way through two excellent pieces by Anthony Holborne: Hey Ho Holiday, and a related Galliard. Chris just gets better the more relaxed his posture is. Something to think about…Keep it up, Chris. Good stuff.

Another member who seems to improve with every meeting is Stuart McLuckey, who played two Dowland items: Mrs Winter’s Jump, and Mrs Nichol’s Almain. Stuart could have played them thrice over without losing our interest.

Philip Lord was given a 19th-century guitar some 50 years ago, and he used it today to play from the book he bought at the time to teach himself to play, a then modern edition of Carulli’s Op. 211. Two items were presented, something “in G”, followed by an Andantino. The guitar sound was gorgeous, and I look forward to hearing it again, as Philip gains some confidence and security in his playing.

Jim Tribble made his SLEGS debut by playing the famous Packington’s Pound – I remember it as Packington’s Shilling, but that’s inflation for you! – and also The Merry Melancholy, both from Thomas Robinson’s School of Musicke. He then proceeded to play a medieval fiddle. Jim hasn’t been playing lute for long, but we expect to hear great things from him at future meetings.

That was followed by the usual free-form blether, as instruments were offered and tried, and folk asked questions about what they had just heard.

Colour photos by Bill Samson, black and white photos by Rob MacKillop.

 

 

 

 

Date of Next Meeting: 16th June, 2018

The 26th meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 16th June, 2018.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 25th Meeting: 10 March, 2018

Despite the bad weather, there was a decent turnout for our 25th meeting. Thanks as ever to Chris Elmes for use of his excellent venue. Much appreciated.

Bill Samson started off proceedings with a “Show and Tell’ on his newly-made cedar-topped classical guitar, after Manuel Ramirez. Bill gave a potted history of the Torres-Ramirez lineage, and put to bed the myth that it was José Ramirez who was the first to use cedar for the soundboard – the practice dates back to at least the mid 19th century.

Bill then treated us to the sounds of his new instrument, easily the best he has made so far. And it has a twin of sorts: a spruce-topped version, all other things being as equal as possible. Hopefully the spruce version will get an airing at the next meeting. Bill played a waltz by Calatayud, followed by Tárrega’s famous Lágrima – both items sounded beautiful: warm basses and singing trebles, and the guitar is only a week old! Great stuff, Bill!

Stuart McLuckie played a pavan and galliard housed in the library of Cambridge University, yet, considering its difficulty, is curiously present in a book of “Easy Pieces” from The Lute Society. There didn’t seem anything easy here, with divisions running all over the place. That said, Stuart made them look and sound fairly easy. He also got a big sound from his James Marriage lute.

Philip Lord played on a guitar from c.1830, sold by the Keith, Prowse company. I was entertained to learn that Keith is a surname…something I should have known. The guitar was given to him from his mother as a wedding present, some 50 years ago, and has lain untouched for almost as long. It’s good to see that he has finally got around to playing it! Philip has played lutes for many decades, and this is his first guitar. He is learning with a book of Carulli studies, published at the time he was given the guitar, and is therefore in good hands – Carulli wrote some delightful, and technically- and musically-satisfying studies. More next time, Philip!

A new visitor, Elspeth Mcveigh, entertained us by singing two Scottish songs: the beautiful Remember Me My Deir, and the moving Joy To The Personne. Elspeth gave a moving rendition of both songs, and were there more time available, could have sung more.

Ronnie McIntyre performed Bach’s BWV 999 on a modern classical guitar. He was clearly enjoying himself, in this well-known work.

Chris Jupp delivered his finest performance to date on a new Luke Emmet 6c. His all-Francesco programme started with a Ricercar No.4 (Ness numbering), followed by the beautiful ‘de mon triste’, and the fantasia on the same. It could be his new lute, but I’ve never heard Chris sound so good, despite running out of steam for the last four bars – no matter, it was a memorable performance. More of the same next time, Chris!

Yasuhiro Nakashima gave a good rendition of a great chaconne in C (or G for a theorbo in A) on his French theorbo. Robert de Visée’s music is never easy, and Yasuhiro did well for playing in front of an audience. There were some beautiful moments, as well as some technically challenging ones. Bravo.

Rob MacKillop surprised everyone by bringing out his new steel-strung archtop guitar. He calmed the palpitations of the confused gathering by playing and talking about the early repertoire of the instrument, and a short history of archtop guitars in general. Rob has started a website devoted to the acoustic archtop guitar, where you can read about the history of the instrument HERE, and watch a video of items from today’s performance HERE. The early repertoire (i.e. before Swing) was very often classical arrangements, and popular song arrangements. He played Schumann’s Traumerei from Arthur Black’s Modern Method for the Spanish Guitar Plectrum Style of 1933, as well as Black’s own Serenade. Rob’s guitar was made by Frans Elferink of Holland (website), one of Europe’s finest archtop luthiers. The audience enthused about the tone and resonance of this magnificent instrument, and also about the repertoire which Rob is enjoying digging up. Early Music? Certainly!