Review of 13th Meeting: 24th January, 2015

A special meeting this time, with a visit from the Dutch guitarist, Jelma van Amersfoort, playing an 18th-century “guittar” – duets with Rob MacKillop, and some solos. Another guest was the Edinburgh-based soprano singer, Ginny Wilson – more about Ginny later. Quite a few members expressed the thought that this was the best meeting yet.

There was a fine turnout for this meeting, which was held at Chris Elmes‘ house – a particularly fine venue for our meetings, and we’d like to thank Chris for not only hosting us, but joining in as well – more later.

Rob introduced Jelma, and talked a little about the 18th-century cittern, know variously as a “guittar”, English guitar, German cittern, cetra, cistre, and guitar. Whatever it was called, the aesthetic is more cittern than guitar, with its brass strings and open-chord tuning. [Various photos by Stuart Goldie, Kevin Macleod, Philip Lord and Bill Samson. Click photos to enlarge.)


Together, Jelma and Rob gave a fine rendition of two of James Oswald‘s “Eighteen Divertimentis for Two Guitars or Mandelins”, published c.1759/60. Oswald was born in Crail, Fife. After a few years in Edinburgh, he moved to London, becoming a leading publisher and Chamber Composer to George III. Robert Burn’s described him as his favourite composer.

Rob and Jelma a

So, the two divertimenti showed traces of early classical and traditional-music elements, with plenty of interplay between the two instruments. It is hoped the performers can work together to bring out a CD of “the 18”.

In between the two Oswald items, they played two pieces from Dutch sources which Jelma had discovered. A few of the audience said how much they liked the piece in Cm, an “Air” from the opera Lucille. 

Jelma then played three solo items from two Dutch sources:

1. Durandarte & Belerma, a pathetic Scottish Ballad by François-Hippolyte Barthélémon (1741-1808)
2. Menuet by David Leonard van Dijk (c.1737 – after 1794)
3. Contre Dans by David Leonard van Dijk (c.1737 – after 1794)

The first was a curious mixture of Scots air to a Spanish story. Stripped of its voice part, the melody sounded very Scottish, and very beautiful in Jelma’s hands.

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Next up was Eric Thomas, who played a Rececare by Francesco Spinacino, Spagna Primo by Vincenzo Capirola, O Bone Jesu by Francesco da Milano/ Loyset Compere, and a Fantasia del Divino Francesco da Milano by Francesco da Milano. All pieces were beautifully played, with good warm tone, and convincing phrasing.

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Bill Samson teamed up with Rob MacKillop to perform the sixth lesson for two guitars from Carulli’s Method of c.1811. The performers should not have informed the audience that they hadn’t had time to rehearse the piece, as they gave a convincing performance. Awa the lads! More next time.


Rob was then joined by soprano, Ginny Wilson, for two of Giuliani’s Sechs Leider. Rob used an 8-string Viennese guitar (by Scot Tremblay), inserting one or two octave transpositions into the accompaniment. Ginny has a very beautiful voice, and an engaging stage manner. Her interpretation of an Italian’s take on German song was utterly convincing. This was the duo’s first public performance, and bode’s well for the future.


Stuart Mcluckie played the Recercare no. 4 by Marco d’Aquila, and
‘Zucht, Ehr und Lob’ by Judenkoenig (from the Lute Society’s 40 Easy to
Early Intermediate Pieces). Stuart played within his technique this time, and gave a very convincing interpretation of these simple but beautiful pieces. Good work.

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Venue host, Chris Elmes, played Lucente Stella (Anon 14th C Italian) and De’ poni amor (Gherardello da Firenza, 14th C Italian) on his two-week old medieval gittern. I particularly enjoyed Chris’s improvised preludes to these rhythmically very interesting pieces, and hope to hear more from him at future meetings.

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To round the afternoon off, Chriss Jupp played Elslein liebstes Elslein mein  from the lute society edition of Das erst Buch (1544) by Hans Newsidler. It was very sweet, and woefully short – more next time, Chris!

There followed a good blether, with groups huddling round various instruments, some trying out instruments they had never played before – which is one of the advantages of these meetings.

Looking forward to the next one!

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