I have known both Craig and Fei for a very long time (I met Craig in his native Perth when he was 14 years old and Fei in Hong Kong on a visit from Beijing when she was 13!) and it was a delight to listen to both of them on top form playing duets and solos in Oxford’s beautiful Sheldonian theatre last November.
Here is the programme
Solos and duets by Piazzolla, De Falla,?Barrios, Pernambuco, Nigel Westlake & Giuliani
Australian born guitarist Craig Ogden returns to the Sheldonian with his effortlessly brilliant, laid-back performance style. His recordings of both classic and contemporary guitar repertoire have received wide acclaim.
Since Xuefei Yang last played for Music at Oxford (in a Chapel Series concert in 2010), she has shot to stardom, and is now acknowledged to be one of the foremost guitarists of her generation, developing new repertoire for the instrument through ingenious arrangement and commissioning.
A rare opportunity to see these two exceptional guitarists join forces. This concert will take us on a musical journey from the classical guitar’s beginnings in Spain to Brazil, Argentina and Australia.
The Westlake was new to me – very listenable and effervescent writing. The Piazzolla and Falla were dispatched with virtuosity and a sense of ensemble which rivalled that of more experienced, regular duos.
The solos were also brilliantly played, highlights for me being Fei’s transcription of a traditional Chinese tune – Fishing boats under the moon – and her rendition of a piece by Paco de Lucia.
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.
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?