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