Guest Artists – Bristol Mandolin & Guitar Ensemble

Thursday 14th October 2021
Unitarian Chapel, Brunswick Square

It was a great pleasure to welcome our sister ensemble, the Bristol Mandolin and Guitar Ensemble, to our October meeting for the second of our Visiting Artist recitals. We have had close links with the BMGE for many years, and several BCGS members are also members of that ensemble under the directorship of arranger, composer and oudist Knud Stüwe.

The BMGE consists of mandolins, guitars, double bass and saxophone. One of the great joys of the ensemble is that it has a key remit the celebration of music with others. The result is an infectiously fun and refreshing experience for the audience.

Each piece was introduced by Knud in his own engaging manner, adding to the wonderfully varied programme an aspect of learning. Music by icon of Egyptian music Riad al Sunbati and the arrangement of Russian composer Tsereteli’s music to the love poem Suliko (Soul) were a particular eye-opener for the audience. From the Renaissance of Dowland and Purcell to Italian opera, twentieth-century avant garde Satie, 60s psychedelic rock and Hollywood film score, the programme was a continuing delight. Knud’s arrangements capture the voicings and intent of the pieces carefully, giving each instrument plenty to do; the players did a great job throughout, the combined sounds of their instruments certainly giving guitar-only ensembles such as our own something to think about in terms of tonal richness and depth.

The Renaissance trio and jazz duet (Paul and Simon perform regularly as the Avellana Duo) that closed the programme were both an admirable show of musicality and an intriguing contrast, again performed with skill and care and proving beyond doubt that music is and must be a shared moment of emotion rather than an intellectual exercise.

Our sincere thanks to Knud and the members of the Bristol Mandolin and Guitar Ensemble for such an enjoyable evening of music. Members of the BCGS are warmly invited to contact Knud and the Bristol Mandolin and Guitar Ensemble via the web and join the ranks of a group with a chartered aim to achieve quality and fun in music.