Thursday 10th October 2019
Unitarian Chapel, Brunswick Square
Luke did two great things for us tonight. Firstly, he made himself available to perform for the Society at short notice, and secondly, and more importantly, he presented a wonderful programme of music in advance of his auditions for music college over the coming period.
The programme Luke presented (below) was a substantial one by any measure. Luke has been working hard to prepare for his auditions, and the hours invested showed as he handled, with care and precision, repertoire from the lute onwards.
Dowland’s Allemande for lute and Bach’s Prelude in G both came across beautifully, and set the tone in Luke’s great care in achieving clarity in the quality of the notes, something only achievable through long practice. Sakura is a song every Japanese child knows, but Yuquijiro Yocoh’s theme and variations for guitar has been played and recorded by countless guitarists worldwide. Luke dealt commendably with the tough demands of this piece.
To take together the Tárrega pieces Luke presented, he entered fully into the composer’s nineteenth-century Romantic ethos, a difficult aspect of his work, although Capricho Arabe certainly is also a tricky piece (Tárrega considered it his most accomplished composition). Again, Luke was equal to the technical requirements, bringing out the melodies clearly through meticulous fingering.
Luke’s performance persona came across as calm, and he introduced the pieces in a clear and informative way. The guitar he was using is, splendidly, made by our own BCGS member Graham Harvey. Congratulations to Graham; all would agree it sounded excellent.
Villa-Lobos is a tall order; a contemporary and very guitaristic feel mixed with lilting Brazilian melodies, here in the Mazurka-Chôro and, in the case of the Bachian Prelude 3, with an additional baroque flavour, giving the player a lot to do. At the opposite end of the timescale was Johannes Kapsberger’s Toccata, originally for the early baroque theorbo. It works very well on the guitar, which gives a faithful and haunting presence to the modulating arpeggios.
In the contemporary phrasing and harmonies of Torroba and Ponce’s Valse, Luke’s precision prevailed, and he handled these sensitively and confidently, bringing us up to the present day with Gary Ryan’s famous, charming piece Birds Flew Over the Spire, the lyrical middle movement from the otherwise frenetic City Scenes. Luke worked hard and painted a delightful summer scene.
Our thanks and congratulations to Luke; we wish him the very best of luck in his upcoming auditions. The BCGS is with you.
Nick Regan October 2019
Stop press: since this recital, Luke has been offered a place by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to study guitar under Helen Sanderson, Zoran Dukić and John Mills. He still has to audition for the Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban, but has this place secured. Congratulations Luke!
Allemande (My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe) John Dowland
Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 (BWV 1007) J. S. Bach
Sakura (theme and variations on a Japanese folk song) Yuquijiro Yocoh
María Francisco Tárrega
Mazurka-Chôro Heitor Villa-Lobos
Toccata Arpeggiata J.H. Kapsberger
Preámbulo from Piezas características F. Moreno Torroba
Capricho Arabe Francisco Tárrega
Valse Manuel Ponce
Prelude No.3 Heitor Villa-Lobos
Prelude No.4 Heitor Villa-Lobos
Adelita Francisco Tárrega
Lágrima Francisco Tárrega
Birds Flew Over the Spire Gary Ryan