Report of the Meeting 06/08/22
Glen performed for us first, on a new instrument to him: a four-course Renaissance guitar built in Romania by Caius Hera. He played three pieces from Guillaume Morlaye’s first book of guitar tablature (1552); Galliard No.2, Galliard No.4, and Les Buffons. All performances demonstrated that he is already very proficient on the instrument and able to bring the music to life with great clarity and style. We look forward to more Renaissance guitar repertoire from him in the future.
Eric Thomas was next to play, treating us to some music that his Spinacino Consort will be performing this month. First up was a Jean Paul Paladin intabulation of Le Contente Est Riche by Claudin de Sermisy. Paladin was a lute tutor to Mary Queen of Scots between 1548 and1553: a very appropriate piece to play in the heart of Edinburgh. Eric showed great skill and accuracy with the quick chord changes and beautiful melody of the piece. He then played the Frog Galliard, with decorations, from the Folger Dowland manuscript: an iconic and difficult piece for renaissance lute, impressively played.
Next, Chris Jupp kept us in the realm of 16th century music with his 6-course Luke Emmet lute. Firstly, he played an anonymous intabulation of an anonymous Benedictus in a French manuscript of 1570, followed by a Ricerar by Francesco da Milano from the Siena lute book (1580-1590). The first was a fairly somber piece and the second, slightly more lively. Chris impressed us all with how easy he made the tricky fingering patterns seem, managing the multiple voices and pedal notes very well too.
We were then joined by Sara Salloum, making her first appearance at the Scottish Lute and Early Guitar Society. Coming all the way from Durham, she told us of her PhD research into women lute players in 17th century England before playing three pieces on a Tony Johnson 8 course lute. Sara delighted us with her relaxed and fluent renditions of Go From My Window, a Ruggiero, and Robin is to the Greenwood Gone. Each piece was played with confidence and embellished with many articulate decorations. Hopefully Sara will return to play for us again and update us on her research, including on the intriguing use of a table to prop up the lute whilst playing.
Luisa McMinn followed, performing two pieces on her James Marriage theorbo: toccatas played from the Torelli Tutor for Theorbo which she has been working from. Luisa demonstrated great accuracy reaching the bass courses on her 14-string instrument and made great use of the theorbo’s full range in both pieces. Luisa has been making noticeable progress on the instrument between meetings and it’s terrific to now have her making regular appearances with an instrument that has been under-represented at our meetings in the past.
Our penultimate performance of the meeting was from Stuart McLuckie. Stuart brought along his 11-course baroque lute to give us two pieces by Weiss, a Trio and a Minuet. Each piece gave Stuart a good workout for his right thumb and he managed to keep up with the string hopping required on the bass strings. Baroque music can be very demanding, but Stuart lived up to the demands and played beautifully.
After a little absence it was great to welcome back our co-founder Bill Samson who joined us with one of a matching pair of guitars built by his own hands: a lovely Terz guitar, tuned in G, which he says is the perfect size to bring on the train or to be played by his granddaughters. Bill played three studies from the third volume of the Matteo Carcassi method. Interestingly, this was the first guitar method to recommend using a footstool. Bill played Studies 1, 3 and 4 from the book which is still published by Schott, the same company who published it during Carcassi’s lifetime. Each piece featured beautiful melodies and subtle builds of tension and release delicately articulated. A very enjoyable performance indeed.
After a short interval we were treated to a recital by distinguished guitarist and old friend of the society, Jamie Akers. Jamie played many pieces from his groundbreaking new album The Poor Branch: 19th Century Guitar Music by Ivan Klinger, a composer that until the release of that album had been virtually unknown. He told us of Klinger’s fascinating life, a child of immigrants to Ukraine who became a musician and military man as an adult. Some of the album is performed on an eight-string guitar, but for his recital he played the pieces suited to a six-string instrument: a beautiful, fully original Panormo guitar built in 1838 complete with its frets and machine heads. Jamie’s playing was delightful, tone production exquisite and his guitar sonorous as he gave us Klinger’s only completely self-composed piece and a number of pieces inspired by existing folk tunes featuring passages written to imitate the balalaika. His performances made an utterly convincing case that these virtuoso pieces should enter the repertoire of many other guitarists. The Poor Branch is available now and comes highly recommended by us. Further details are available from his label’s website:
Guitarists who are interested in trying out these compositions and others by Klinger can download facsimile scores from IMSLP:
Jamie has also recorded a fascinating album of Scottish pieces composed by the acknowledged masters of 19th century guitar (Sor, Giuliani, Mertz, Legnani):