Set in the chapel at Beechwood Independent School, Craig Ogden and Gary Ryan delivered an exciting conference program with a great mixture of the old and new. The evening started with a duet of 'old favourites' from the 17th and 18th century including Drury's Accords,that old stand by 'Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home' (Dowland), Sonata K377 in E minor (Scarlatti) and a rarely performed piece Sonata No 84 in A major by Soler. Through their excellent performance of these pieces, Craig and Gary stamped their authority on the the evening with some great pieces following.
Gary, then took over with a flawless rendition of Sarabande and Double Bouree and Bouree (Bach) which was followed by a vibrant Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Tarrega), an old favourite which one never gets tired of listening. Excellent classical guitarists have that innate ability to control the aural 'light and shade' of a piece and this was conveyed in the warmth of Gary's performance.
Craig, too, was brilliantly effective in managing the right balance of aural light and shade with his stunning performance of a piece by his student (!!) Callum Dewar. Simply called Sonata, the piece was a highly complex and challenging study which certainly belies the age of the composer (20 years old). Callum Dewar is a composer to definitely look out for in the near future.
The first act finished with a performance of Gary's composition Generator, which, like most of Gary's compositions 'pushed the envelope' out incorporating a range of tunings, and performance techniques that were challenging. The piece represented the inner workings of an engine combined with a human element. It certainly painted a great aural picture. The starkness of the piece put me in mind of Fritz Langer Metropolos.
Interval gave me a chance to restore the blood supply to my backside which had suffered from the rigours of the hard seating in the vestry where the concert took place. (A restorative glass of red manage to help as well).
Craig opened up the second part of the program with a trip to sunny Spain with a wonderful performance of Sonatina (1st Movement) by Torroba followed by Asturias (Albeniz) and Soleares(Turina). I haven't heard Torroba's Sonatina performed for years- in fact the last time I heard it was at a Narciso Yepe concert sometime in my deep dark past. I loved it then and thoroughly enjoyed hearing it again. It is a challenging piece for the average 'pluck and strummer' like myself so I certainly could appreciate Craig's flawless interpretation..
Gary joined Craig on the podium for another series of duets. The Spanish theme continued with two De Falla pieces (Millers dance and Dance of the Corregidor). Then it was off to South America for a performance of Machados Sambalanca and a highly amusing piece Xaranga do Vovo (My Grandfathers car) complete with a bycle horn to add to the effect.
Gary then followed with a composition based on his experiences in America (Rockweed) and a highly evocative and moving piece called Lough Caragh.
Craig then joined Gary for a performance of another Ryan original called 'Bazaar' which was written to capture the mood of a Moroccan market. Lots of percussion, and sound additions from other sources which included flying ping pong balls , pens and teaspoons which caused some alarm for the audience in the front row. Just as well there were no Health and Safety Inspectors around!!
It was an evening of great music and laughter with two first rate guitarists!!
Special thanks to Ray Love and the Wealden Society for organising this concert.