More Biberian – Guitar Concerto

Link to Biberian Concerto.

Gilbert dropped by last month – always an occasion for food, musical discussion and  philosophy.
He was insistent, though, that we had time together – alone. Normally my reaction would be “uh oh – what new scheme has he hatched”, but I knew it was different this time.

In fact, it was very different and wholly unexpected. Thirty years ago, after I had premiered Gilbert’s groundbreaking work “Monogram” in the Wigmore Hall, I had the mad idea of having a version with guitar and orchestra, or maybe just orchestra. The density of the sounds and cogent structure seemed to lend itself to a larger medium of expression. In fact, Gilbert did produce his Concerto for me to look at. It looked frighteningly difficult, but it was unfinished, and we said no more about it.

Until last month, that is, when Gilbert produced this, the final(?) version of his concerto incorporating references to “Monogram” and to our monograms plus various other bits of musical reference and word play. The score was accompanied by a touching letter, written on exquisite handmade paper.

I was stunned. I think we never fully realise the effect that our actions have on others and conversely, we often take the help and support of  others for granted. This lesson was brought home to me that day! I was extremely touched and proud to receive the letter and it is reproduced below.Here is a link to a computer rendition of the score.

The score is dense and difficult in a world dominated by simple, pretty sounds and Biberian takes no prisoners – I think I am slightly relieved not have to give a first performance of it! It is a concerto unlike any other in contemporary guitar writing, full with musical and literary reference.
Please have a listen with open ears. Soundclouds will envelope you. It is amazing the guitar should have such a piece in its repertoire and it may be some time before it is fully appreciated, but you can say heard it here first.

Thank you Gilbert!
(We had a nice meal of chicken in olives and various meze.)

5 thoughts on “More Biberian – Guitar Concerto

  1. Hello
    My sincerest congratulations to you both from an old friend.
    So long since we have been in touch or in each others company but never forgotten.

    It is a wonderful testament that you have given each other such joy in the world of music not to mention composing music that pushes back the boundaries of what can be devilishly difficult music to play and interpret, but tonally, always ahead of its time for both listener and accomplished player alike. Yet so satisfying if and when you get it right.

    The mention of 1984 in Gilbert’s letter brings back fond memories of a certain guitar winter school, fingerless mitts, leg warmers, ice on the inside of the windows, Gilbert & Gerald doing what they do best, playing guitar and passing on their sheer enthusiasm and love for music new and old not to mention skills and advice to those that braved “that interesting week”.

    Fondest Memories

      • Hi Gerald
        Yes still paying sadly not as much as I would like, although that is changing, trying to play a little more each evening and gradually getting my level of playing back up to par, modern life work and the odd touch of arthritis, just seems to get in the way… the last post I sent was from your home city of Hong Kong, visiting on business…. what a fantastic place if a little, hot and noisy compared to village life in Wales 🙂

        I do tend to drop by your website and check in every so often just to see what’s going on… always some interesting news and comments 🙂


  2. I had the cd of the Biberian’s 24 Preludes on and googled and found this insightful tale of guitar life. Thanks for sharing and good luck to you and Gilbert.

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