Worthing concert review

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Last Tuesday Christ Church, Worthing, hosted a concert of classical guitar music by Paul Gregory, who lives in Brighton, and is an internationally renowned performer, composer, teacher and examiner with a repertoire covering the Renaissance to the modern.

In this recital Paul Gregory played five pieces covering a timespan of some 400 years, and a wide stylistic panorama, opening with an Alman and an arrangement of the Elizabethan melody Hit and Take it, originally written for the lute by Robert Johnson. The heavy nature of the dance and the lighter nature of the setting were well captured. The longest piece in the recital, J.S.bach’s Suite in E minor for lute, was written for Sylvius Weiss, Bach’s great lutenist contemporary; one of a series of lute suites it is the only one which is not a series of arrangements from Bach’s other works, and may well have been composed at his lute-harpsichord. An overture-like prelude in two sections introduced the work, a vigorous toccata-like opening being followed by a dance-like section in triple time, after which we heard the main components of the Baroque suite, the polyphonically textured flowing allemande, the rhythmically bouncy courante, slow and emotionally freighted sarabande, with a chirpy gavotte inserted before the complex gigue were presented with consummate skill.

Fernando Sor was the leading Spanish guitarist and a prolific composer for the instrument in the early 19th century, and his variations op. 28 on Marlborough (recognised as the tune to For he’s a jolly good fellow”) showed his assimilation and mastery of the classical style and musical language of Haydn and Mozart, with one variation in the minor, and the others increasing in brilliance, which was captured seemingly effortlessly by Paul Gregory. A quieter piece, Peter Maxwell-Davies, Farewell to Stromness, originally written for the piano in protest at plans to mine uranium ore in Orkney, in three sections the two outer ones presenting a Scottish folk-tune complete with the frequent short-long rhythms typical of Scottish music, was followed by two pieces by Isaac Albeniz, a piano virtuoso of the late 19th century, whose pieces showed the strong influence of the guitar, both classical and flamenco. Taken from Iberia, Malagueña and Cádiz, both in triplet rhythms, were arranged by Francisco Tarrega for the guitar, and a rousing performance transmitted the infectious rhythmic interplay and classical-flamenco fusion.

A large and enthusiastic audience will be looking forward to welcoming Paul back to Worthing for a further concert.

A retiring collection was given for the DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal.

John Collins