When the world seems to be tearing itself apart, it is somehow comforting to know that people can still come together to share peaceful interests. Long may it continue. Ours is a small society, arguably a support group, and there is nothing wrong with that. Each of us struggles to play beautiful music as best we can, and in so doing bring a little more beauty and, yes, harmony into the world. Thankfully we are far from being alone.
Bill Samson started with a Show And Tell session, with two new terz guitars he has recently made for his granddaughters. A terz guitar is tuned a minor 3rd higher than standard, with a string length (in this case) of 54cms. They were popular in the 19th century, with Giuliani writing concerti for terz guitar and orchestra.
Rob MacKillop joined Bill for a performance of two duets – the 3rd and 6th Leziones from the Method by Carulli, which were well received. Here is a video the dynamic duo made at Bill’s home a few days earlier:
Bill went on to play a Divertimento and Melodia by Bartolomé Calatayud, who once studied with Francisco Tárrega. Charming repertoire, romantic, though never troubling in any emotional sense. Bill acquitted himself well, as always. I must say the craftsmanship on these two small twin instruments is among Bill’s best, and I’m sure his granddaughters will treasure them.
Chris Jupp played another Samson instrument, an 11c lute, largely strung in gut. The Kremsmunster MS L82b contains many charming pieces, some of them appearing in Stefan Lundgren’s Baroque Lute Companion, from which Chris chose a Prelude and an Aria in Dm. Both were lovely, and left this reviewer wanting more. Please prepare a small suite of pieces for the next meeting, Chris.
Glo Lo treated us to more Calatayud on her low-tuned, gut-strung Ricardo Sanchis 2A guitar from 1988: a small suite of pieces, Vals, Romanza, Pasodoblillo, and Cancion de Cuna. Glo produces a very pleasing sound with the combination of gut strings and a no-nails technique. Only in the Passodoblo did she struggle to keep on top of the instrument, but considering how long she has been playing, she is doing very well.
Philip Lord played a Paysanne by the Belgian composer, Jacques de St Luc, on his beautiful 13c Michael Lowe lute. I jotted down the words, plaintive and calming. Onwards and upwards for Philip, this was a seemingly nerves-free performance.
Charles Browne gave his SLEGS debut, with a mini recital of challenging works by Weiss, a Prelude in F, and a Prelude and Fugue in Dm, from the edition by Peter Lay of six sonatas. His Martin Bowers 11c lute (ex Robert Spencer) was tuned precisely to 408, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but the sound was good, strong when it needed to be, or equally delicate. Weiss’s music is always interesting and varied, with block chords of interesting harmony, extended arpeggios and slurred scale runs, there is always much to tune into. While tone production could have been a little less aggressive, and with his chosen tempi daring to run away from him, Charles’ commitment to his performance is to be commended. All in all, a fine debut, and we look forward to hearing more from him at future meetings.
Gordon Ferries drew the performing part of proceedings to a fine conclusion, playing music for archlute by Kapsberger, Toccatas Nos.7 then 6, from the composer’s 1611 edition. As ever with Kapsberger, we were treated to a variety of moods and gestures, with imitative passages, runs in parallel tenths, long sequences of juicy appogiaturas, and spicy chromaticism – all heady stuff, which Gordon played with taste and grace. It’s always good to hear Gordon play, and we all look forward to his next performance.
As ever, much mingling ensued, with instruments being passed around. Nice to see two new faces in the audience, Ronnie Macintyre and Rebecca Laird. Visitors always welcome. Thanks agin to Chris Elmes for use of his beautiful room.
Photos by Rebecca Laird (below) and Bill Samson.