Saturday, 6th October, 2012
A good turnout for the first anniversary meeting, with some excellent performances, and a thought-provoking illustrated talk by luthier, Bill Samson.
Rob MacKillop started proceedings with three studies by Fernando Sor, played on a Lacote copy by Michael Nalysnyk, Opus 31, nos 18 in Bm, 23 in E, and 14 in G. The first two in particular are among the most beautiful studies by Sor, yet rarely heard. The gut-strung guitar sounded very full and mellow, unperturbed that behind it, in glass cases, there lurked a couple of original Lacote guitars…
Chris Jupp performed a difficult Ground from the Marsh lute book, a beautiful “Scots Tune” from the Rowallan manuscript, and finally, Port Jean Lindsay from the Straloch manuscript. It is wonderful to hear Chris’ confidence grow with each passing meeting. He certainly gets the most out of his Early Music Shop lute.
Philip Lord is in the process of moving house, with various instruments and scores in storage. Therefore we had the rare treat of hearing Dowland played on a 6c vihuela! Philip performed three versions of Orlando Sleepeth, from three different sources. There were a few nerves on show at the outset, but he quickly focussed mind, body and soul on the job in hand, and there were some very nice moments indeed, with his Paul Thomson vihuela sounding very clear. Some vihuela music next time, Philip?
Bill Samson brought out his self-made mandour, which is always an excuse for a few jokes, and amusing comments. Once that had settled down, Bill played three delightful pieces from the Skene manuscript: What If A Day, Ostende and I Long For Your Virginity. The tunes could have done with at least one repeat, seemingly over within seconds of starting, but short and sweet describes not only the music, but the instrument as well. One is tempted to stretch the description to the player also!
Stuart Mcluckie got a big sound out of his James Marriage lute, playing arrangements with decidedly questionable harmonies in Alan Alexander’s arrangements of tunes from the Skene manuscript. Stuart played well, but for this listener at least, the harmonies sounded more suitable to modern steel-strung guitar arrangements, and lost much of the uniqueness of the originals. As Robert Burns once said: “Whatever Mr Pleyel does, let him not alter one iota of the original Scots air…but let our National Music preserve its native features – They are, I believe, frequently wild & uneducable to the more modern rules; but on that very eccentricity, perhaps, depends a great deal of their effect”. Stuart might want to seek out copies of the original manuscripts…That aside, he played them beautifully!
Finally, Bill Samson gave us an illustrated walk through a number of images from paintings of lutes which have not survived into the present day. These lutes have not only not physically survived, but have been largely overlooked by today’s luthiers and players. Each image seemed to provoke lively debate, with the overall conclusion that we have narrowed our compass too greatly, as players and makers, and it would be to the greater benefit to try to recreate some of these forgotten lute models.
Next meeting: I will create a new Post here, once a date has been agreed. Do return to this website in a month or so.
Photos by Stuart Goldie…