Eden-Stell Guitar Duo 25th Anniversary Concert at Kings Place 25th October 2014

Eden Stell Duo

This special concert was part of the London Guitar Festival, and there were other interesting events happening during the day as well.
I discovered that Jack Hancher and Haydn Bateman, both formerly NYGE members were playing on the Aspire Stage programme, and so were Julian Vickers and Dan Bovey (also former NYGE alumni) on the Young Artist Platform. Wonderful musicianship and exciting playing and a great taster for the main event that evening. I particularly enjoyed the Vickers Bovey performance of Pierre Petit’s Toccata and Joe Cutler’s Every Day Music, which was given its World Premier, and the Hancher Bateman Duo’s exciting Rodrigo Tonadilla.

Later on, at the reception before the Eden Stell concert, there were many luminaries of the guitar world present, including the duo’s former teacher at the Royal Academy, Michael Lewin and David Russell, who had just flown in from Korea. Tom Kerstens, the genial organiser of the festival was also in evidence.

The concert was superb – a testament to the duo’s hard work and lively approach to the art of chamber music making.
Every nuance in the pieces by Couperin and Rameau was captured, even more so than on the harpsichord for which they were written. Johannes Möller’s “When Buds are Breaking” was similarly expertly and delicately realised.
The staple guitar duo pieces by Sergio Assad (Jobiniana) and Piazzolla (Tango Suite) were thrilling to hear and given a freshness so characteristic of the Eden Stell Duo.
But the revelation of the evening was Mark Eden’s masterly arrangements of Canciones y Danzas by Frederic Mompou – these are magical piano miniatures whose reference to Catalan folksong will be familiar to guitarists though Llobet’s arrangements. The spare texture and simple yet emotionally charged world of Mompou fits the guitar perfectly.
The concert ended with the duo’s signature four handed encore. A CD is due to appear next year, and I am ready to pre-order it!
The evening was a wonderful tribute to Mark and Chris’ twenty five years of playing together, showcasing their subtlety, expert insight, virtuosity and above all their sense of fun which I have been privileged to be party to ever since they formed their duo.

I was not able to record any of the concert, but here is a short video of Chris and Mark warming up before:

Here are some photos of the occasion:
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Some videos of the Eden Stell duo in action if you can’t wait to hear them live

West Dean 2013 1

West Dean – the name conjures up well appointed gardens, a flint covered manor in the middle of the rolling Sussex countryside, sheep, cream teas, Surrealists, the eccentric Edward James and a lively yet dignified community of craftsmen and women, engaged in furniture making, restoration, stained glass, tapestry, blacksmithing, and crafts we only read about in books.
W Dean

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WYGF 2013 – 1

WYGF is the World Youth Guitar Festival, which conjures up images of children aged 8-18 jumping up and down with balloons, enthusiastic tutors being silly in a panto, and also some serious ensemble work with some of the best names in the business. It is a place where young guitarists of all abilities make music together under the musical direction of inspirational tutors and mentors.
This year, tutors include Gaelle Solal from France, the Duo Agostino from Australia, Frank Gerstmeier from Germany, Johannes Moller from Sweden, Peter Nuttall, Mark Eden, Mark Ashford, Helen Sanderson, Chris Stell, Nick Powlesland, Matthew Robinson and myself. The organisation was ably managed by Sandra and Trevor Dukes, Georgina Bashford as Head Mentor and the Festival Director Helen Sanderson.
This all took place in the hallowed grounds of Uppingham School.


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Alternative performing venues part 2

The alternative performing space I like best is Goldberg’s room next door to his boss Count Kaiserling. The Count was an insomniac and used to get Goldberg to play the clavichord to while away the night – no iPod or TV!
I often wonder how Goldberg must have spent his day and when he had time to practise! Of course, this would all have been a footnote in history if Forkel, Bach’s biographer had not written that Count Kaiserling had commissioned old Bach to write his eponymous set of variations for Goldberg. The Count was reported to have said, frequently  ‘Dear Goldberg, do play me one of my variations.’

A few years back, where would you have been able to listen to the following guitarists in a more or less regular series for free? Xue Fei Yang, Johannes Moller, David Leisner, Alison Smith, the Eden Stell Duo, Gerald Garcia and Alison Bendy?

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