Exceptional was the unanimous verdict of the Music Society’s audience following the October concert performed by classical guitarists Julien Vickers and Daniel Bovey. Recent, First Class Honours graduates of the Birmingham Conservatoire they are currently studying for a Joint Masters in Guitar Duo with Michael Lewin at the Royal Academy of Music in London. They have also performed many concerts up and down the country winning several major competitions, and between them, building a formidable reputation along the way.
The evening’s concert opened with a Toccata composed by Pierre Petit. It was written as pure listening pleasure rather than academic theory with its collage like feel making excursions into jazz before ending as virtuosically as it began. The rapport between Julien and Daniel was immediately apparent.
Scarlatti’s sonatas were originally composed for the keyboard and with his strong Iberian influences this allowed an easy translation to the guitar which Julien and Daniel, playing the G Minor sonata K87, did with a great deal of panache.
This was followed by Promenade 1 written in 1988 by the late Stephen Dodgson. A narrative piece which takes the audience on an afternoon stroll along the seafront full of joy, sunshine and energy, in and out of various happenings including a dog fight, and as their playing progressed it was easy to imagine this story unfolding in front of you.
Suite Española is amongst Isaac Albéniz’s most popular works. Each of the movements of the suite portrays different regions and musical styles of Spain. Although originally written for solo piano, Cadiz and many other pieces by Albéniz have been transcribed for the guitar and have become popularly known as key pieces in the guitar’s repertoire.
No guitar concert would be complete without the inclusion of the music of the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo and rather than play the Concierto de Aranjuez the two instead chose Tonadilla. The first is a very mechanical movement whilst the remaining two movements reveal the lyricism and humour more distinctive of the sounds commonly associated with Rodrigo’s music.
The concert concluded with the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola’s Tango suite for two guitars. His music has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years and his three-movement Tango Suite for two guitars composed in 1983 demonstrates why. Dramatic South American rhythms defined the suite and remarkable, gentle playing made the slow middle movement particularly moving.
Julian and Daniel are both gifted players individually and as a duo they are exceptional. They displayed an astonishing and instinctive feel for each other’s playing making the use of scores unnecessary, the whole concert being played from memory.