Date of Next Meeting: 19th November, 2016

The 20th meeting will take place on 19th November, and will be a special one. Jelma van Amersfoort, guitar, will be joined by Paul Sparks, mandolin, for some historical mandolin and guitar duets. Many members will remember Jelma’s previous visit to SLEGS, and will be delighted to see her again. Paul Sparks has written the two most important books on the history of the mandolin, and will answer any questions you have on its development and repertoire.

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.

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: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report of 19th Meeting: August 13th, 2016.

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

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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.

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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.

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Then Philip Lord played a G-major prelude by Sylvius Leopold Weiss, on his beautiful Michael Lowe baroque lute.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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More about 13th August Meeting

Jamie Akers will pay us a much welcome visit, performing some lute music. Jamie is one of the leading younger lute players on the scene today. His recent album of 19th-century guitar music associated with Scotland is a “must have”. See his website for more information: http://jamieakers.com

Gordon Ferries has also promised us a mini recital, extracted from his “mostly Mertz” program. Mertz was one of the greatest of the post-Sor/Giuliani period guitarists. This should be a fascinating recital.

And Rob MacKillop will be playing some Romantic guitar music which was recently found in a flea market in Valencia!

Plus there will be the contribution of regular members – always worth hearing.

Visitors and guests are most welcome. £1 fee to cover heating.

time: 1pm to around 4pm

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.

Dates of Next Two Meetings

The 19th meeting of the Scottish Lute and Early Guitar Society will take place on Saturday 13th August, 2016, from 1pm (usually the meetings last two to three hours). All are welcome.

The 20th meeting will take place on 19th November, and will be a special one. Jelma van Amersfoort, guitar, will be joined by Paul Sparks, mandolin, for some historical mandolin and guitar duets. Many members will remember Jelma’s previous visit to SLEGS, and will be delighted to see her again. Paul Sparks has written the two most important books on the history of the mandolin, and will answer any questions you have on its development and repertoire.

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.

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: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report of 18th Meeting: 7 May, 2016

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A very interesting meeting today, covering flamenco to braying donkeys!

Rob MacKillop explained how the classical guitar can be used very effectively for playing the music of the vihuela – a guitar-shaped instrument strung like a lute, and played in Spain.  Vihuela tuning can be achieved by simply lowering the guitar’s third string by a semitone.  He then went on to play several vihuela pieces – first was ‘Ardé, çorazon, ardé’ by Narvaez; a fine contemplative piece.  Next came the complex ‘Fantasia del Quarto Tono’, also by Narvaez.  Then he played Narvaez’s beautiful intabulation of Josquin’s ‘Mille Regrez’, which suits the instrument very well indeed.  Finally Rob pointed out that Narvaez’s variations on ‘Guardame las Vacas’ came in two sets.  One of them taking pasacaglia form – a variation of ‘The Andalusian Cadence’ – and the other being based on the Romanesca ground.  This version was also playable in the 33222 rhythm that is characteristic of many flamenco forms, raising the question of whether there is a direct relationship between Spanish renaissance music and the flamenco music with which we are familiar.  To emphasize the point, he tapped out the rhythm several times, then played rasgueado chords before starting to play the piece as Narvaez wrote it down, making the rhythm clear to all of us, as well as taking the piece at a breakneck speed!

Then Bill Samson joined Rob for a duet, Cubano, a traditional tune arranged by Len Williams. It was interesting to hear two guitars based on a Manuel Ramirez model, one by Simon Ambridge, the other by Bill Samson himself. Considering they had no time to rehearse, the performance went well.

Bill went on to perform two pieces on his guitar: the anonymous ‘Corrido‘, straight out of a 1950s cowboy movie, and a famous Minuet in C by Fernando Sor. Bill gave a decent performance of each.

Stuart McLuckie played two versions of ‘What If A Day’, interspersed with ‘Il me suffit’ by Claudin de Sermisy. His lute contrasted quite dramatically with the soft-toned guitar, proving that polyphony benefits from a more transparent sound.

Philip Lord entertained us with two pieces on his magnificent Michael Lowe 13c lute, the first a Fantasia in F by Kellner, the second a Sonata in F by Weiss. It’s good to hear that, despite a bad fall some months ago, Philip has managed to improve on the 13c. Keep it up, sir!

Chris Elmes was joined by his partner, Cait Webb, for some wonderful improvisations and arrangements of medieval music, on 5c lute, gittern and bray harp (said to bray like a donkey!). They started with three 15th-century Italian dances, followed with more basse dances, and a pre-ornamented tenor line from a Burgundian manuscript. All the instruments had great projection, providing a rousing finale to the afternoon’s music.

The usual chatting and trying of unfamiliar instruments followed. New visitor, Glo Lo, was seen trying gittern and bray harp. It was wonderful catch up with Reyyan xewlâ özer before she heads off to Sweden. Best of luck for the future, Reyyan!

Thanks again to Chris Elmes for use of his apartment.

 

 

Date of Next Meeting – 7th May

The 18th meeting of the Scottish Lute and Early Guitar Society will take place on Saturday 7th May, 2016, from 1pm (usually the meetings last two to three hours). All are 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.

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: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report of 17th Meeting: 13th February, 2016

The foul weather nearly scuppered the meeting yesterday, but six hardy souls braved the blizzard, and were rewarded with some excellent playing and a good blether.

Dorothee O’Sullivan Burchard fought through nerves to play her first full-length piece at a SLEGS meeting. What a triumph for her! La Roque by Pierre Attaingnant is not a very easy piece, so congratulations to Dorothee for getting to the finish line unharmed, and with the crowd yelping their approval. There’s no holding you back now, Dorothee. We’re already looking forward to your next performance.

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Another beginner lute player is David Bateman, testing the waters after years of guitar playing. He performed his own intabulation of the Coventry Carol, followed by a version of The King of Denmark’s Galliard. David employs the clever ploy of first informing his audience of how awful his playing is, leaving us highly impressed with what does transpire. Being an “Early” dancer, his rhythm is always good (a rare thing among lute players) and he gets most of the notes! With a little more thought towards tone production and position shifts, all the parts will start coming together, the stars will align, and all will be well with the universe. Keep it up, David!

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Stuart McLuckie always entertains, this time with two of the Tunes Of Old London, a Lynda Sayce edition: Lost is my Liberty, and Lincoln’s Inn. These are excellent pieces, and Stuart performed them very well indeed.

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Chris Jupp gave his first performance on an 11c lute (made by Bill Samson). We are used to hearing Chris on an 8c student lute, but this was quite different. Bill’s thirty-year old gut-strung lute sounded magnificent, and although Chris has yet to feel at home on the instrument, he is certainly on the way to doing so. A prelude from the Bohush manuscript (a new one to me) was short but sweet, as preludes often are. It was followed by a sarabande, La Mignone, from the Saizenay manuscript, which was very beautiful. His encore was the rhythmically delightful, Sweet Willie from the Balcarres manuscript. My feeling is that Chris sounds more himself on the 11c, and I definitely look forward to hearing more from him on it.

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Onto guitars…

Bill Samson played the Caprice Op.60 No.4 by Carcassi on his 28-year old guitar, after Manuel Ramirez. This guitar makes a beautiful sound, and has a good range of dynamics. Bill was playing brilliantly until unintentionally skipping a line towards the end, which almost derailed his dashing train. Much applause followed as he hirpled into the station

Rob MacKillop played his beautiful Simon Ambridge guitar, after Torres and Manuel Ramirez. The gut and silk-strung guitar was the perfect mach for the arrangement of El Noi de la Mare, a Catalan Christmas Carol, arranged for once not by Miguel Llobet, but by one of his students, Graciano Tarragó.

Both guitarists put their Manuel Ramirez-inspired guitars together for two duets, arranged by Len Williams from his Spanish And South American collection: De Blanca Tierra (one could almost hear the pan pipes) and El Paño Moruno. Encore lads!

Gruesom Twosome

Stuart McLuckie took the duo photograph. All others above were by Bill Samson. All the photos below are by Rob MacKillop.

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David

Speed Page Turner

Trio

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