The renowned Australian classical guitarist Craig Ogden, described as one of the most exciting artists of his generation, is certainly a sought-after guitarist for chamber music concerts in the UK. As such, we at Inverurie Music were absolutely delighted when Craig agreed to give a recital for us as part of our 2020-21 Season. Sadly, due to the current restrictions on live events, this was not to be.
Nevertheless Craig, who is Director of Guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, readily agreed to collaborate in producing an exclusive video recording as a replacement for the planned live concert. The venue he chose for this is the beautiful Moorish Pavilion at Kingham Lodge in the Cotswolds.
Craig has chosen a very appealing programme spanning from the Baroque up to contemporary composers (see annex). Craig commenced his programme with two keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (1685 – 1757), transcribed for the guitar. This music is particularly suited to the classical guitar with its well-defined melody, harmony and bass.
His next piece is from the French composer Napoleon Coste (1805 – 1883). Coste studied with Fernando Sor and became a prolific composer and championed a 7 string guitar. As Craig described, this piece is themed on the French army’s departure and return to Paris. Coste’s works are not often performed in concert these days, and listening to Craig’s rendition, it is hard to understand why not. This piece was written at the height of the Romantic period and shows some Romantic idioms as applied to the guitar.
Craig’s third set of pieces are much loved standards by Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885 – 1944), or Barrios as he is commonly referred. Barrios was Paraguayan and spent his performing life touring Central and Southern America. Barrios perpetuated the ‘singer -songwriter’ mode of musician (somewhat in defiance of his contemporary Andre Segovia (1893 – 1987) who concentrated on performing other peoples’ works but with some transcribing).
Craig’s fourth set is the popular Lute Suite BWV 996 by J S Bach. As Craig says, this is an ever-present part of the guitar repertoire, so the trick is to make it sound fresh. This is achieved best by bringing out the melodies in the top and inner voices, which Craig here does very well.
The next items are guitar transcriptions from original piano compositions by the Spanish composer, Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909). As Craig points out, the pieces are imbued with Spanish motifs which are themselves from the Flamenco guitar style. These are originally dance idioms, so maintaining a strong pulse and rhythm appropriate to the Flamenco style is important and is more than just playing the notes on the page.
His final pieces are from the English composer Gary Ryan (1969 -). Gary is a prolific composer for the guitar, often on diverse themes such as the jungle, the city scape and, in this case, Ireland and the American West. His pieces range from elementary developmental pieces used in grade books right up to virtuosic examples that Craig has played for us.
The venue was quite boomy for the voice, as Craig’s comments come across as a bit distant, but as Craig knew, the venue is ideal for the timbes of the guitar. It is always a joy to watch Craig play, with his marvellous musicality combined with an (apparently) effortless and efficient technique, which would be the envy of many players, myself included.
In closing, we need to acknowledge the vision and energies of Inverurie Music, musicinverness and the Aberdeen Chamber Music Club for finding a way to continue to bring live(ish) music to their subscribers and to Craig for going to the trouble of organising the venue and the recording of his concert for our delectation.
Peter Stock, Dec 2020
Sonata K.380 Domenico Scarlatti
Fantasie Dramatique “Le Depart”, Op.31 Napoléon Coste
Julia Florida Agustín Barrios Mangoré
Vals op.8 no.4
Lute Suite no.1 in E minor, BWV 996 J.S. Bach
- Prelude & Presto
Torre Bermeja Isaac Albeniz
Lough Caragh Gary Ryan