Thursday 13th December 2018
Unitarian Chapel, Brunswick Square

The BCGS was delighted this evening to welcome an appreciative and good-sized audience of friends and family and to treat them to our annual winter concert, showcasing the work throughout the year of the Ensemble and smaller playing groups and individual members; regaling them with music that is both serious and enjoyable, and shedding some light for their nearest and dearest on what it is that they actually do on the second Thursday of every month.

Helen James and the Ensemble opened the evening with two folk tunes in her arrangements, with rich chords, lovely light and shade and the melodies singing over the four-part accompaniments.

Charlotte, Rob and Lynette’s Vivaldi and Hartog were a clever pairing, with the bluesy Hartog piece following the formal baroque variations. Both were played with coordination and style.

Next came Ciarán, with his own arrangement of the Pogues’ seasonal favourite Fairy tale of New York. His adaptation allows Ciarán no easy ride as player, drawing on a wide range of techniques from tremolo to melody in thirds and in the bass strings. A piece we hope to hear again at regular meetings.

Clive Garrett bade farewell tonight to the BCGS with Mason Williams’ 1968 hit Classical Gas, one of the classical guitar’s very few pop hits, in an energetic rendering that Clive clearly enjoyed as much as we did. We will miss Clive’s good humour and skilful playing, and wish him the very best for his future involvement with the Worcester CGS – our loss; their gain.

Tony and Tim rounded off the first half by adding even more variety, with sensitively executed and beautiful renaissance pieces by Dowland and Bach, and the cool jazz feel of Pujol’s 2005 piece Palermo, which they and many of us first heard and were charmed by last year in the hands of visiting artists the Griffin-Turner Duo.

Although Francisco Tárrega never played his Recuerdos de la Alhambra in concert, he almost always included Capricho Árabe in his programmes; he considered it among his most accomplished pieces. Tonight Paul played Tárrega’s original arrangement of a piece that has turned the head of many a guitarist to the classical genre over the decades.

As Tony Lewis, BCGS Chairman and MC pointed out, he has never singled out a performance for special praise at these concerts. However, on this occasion, Francesco’s Chaconne was rightly identified as the stand-out moment of the night. A classical guitar scholar now working as an engineer, Francesco showed us an impressive feat of technique, memory and sensitive musicianship. He received loud, warm applause.

In counter-balance, Rob returned to the stage with Barry and Vince to play a ‘light’ trio from among the little-known composer von Call’s oeuvre of some 150 didactic works. The performance was nuanced, and the players communicated well throughout to produce a very pleasant suite of salon-style music.

To bring the programme to its culmination, the BCGS Ensemble took the stage again. It is hard to overstate the progress that the group has made over the time the Helen has been arranging music for us and directing us. The playing is now careful and the parts tight, and the players’ reading of her conducting is responsive, producing lyrical, skilful and very enjoyable music that all of us can be proud of. Helen’s talent as an arranger shone again here, in the four Spanish folk tunes and Brazilian Nazareth’s Brejeiro.

Equally efficient, as always, was concerts secretary David Evans in the provision of wine and mince pies afterwards, and there were plenty of smiles and good conversation until late. A great end to a great evening and a great year of classical guitar music. Well done and thanks to all, and best wishes for a happy 2019.

Nick Regan, December 2018

Programme

EnsembleFolk Tune
Ijwals
both arr. Helen James
Charlotte Barnard /
Rob Blackwell /
Lynette Taberner
Trio Sonata in Dm
Let’s Take the Flip Side
Antonio Vivaldi
Cees Hartog
Cierán ElsterFairy Tale of New Yorkarr. Cierán Elster
Clive GarrettClassical GasMason Williams
Tony Lewis /
Tim Rigley
Come Again
Arioso
Palermo
John Dowland
J S Bach
Máximo D. Pujol
Paul BradshawCapricho ÁrabeFrancisco Tárrega
Francesco RealeChaconne in DmJ S Bach
Rob Blackwell /
Barry Corbett /
Vince Smith
Leichtes Trio Op. 26:
Andante, Menuett,
Adagio, Rondo
Leonhard von Call
Ensemble4 Spanish folk tunes:
Don Gato
La Tarara
Valenciana
Serrana
arr. Helen James
BrejeiroErnesto Nazareth arr. Helen James

      Mince pies and wine!