Review: Vida Guitar Quartet, West Sussex Guitar Club

REVIEW BY Teresa Henley

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 9:05 am
Vida Guitar Quartet

To help ease the difficulty of these isolating times West Sussex Guitar Club has commissioned Vida Guitar Quartet, comprised of Mark Eden, Chris Stell, Mark Ashford and Amanda Cook to perform the Club's second virtual concert . This can be accessed on Latest news or Upcoming events on the Club's website www.westsussexguitar.org and will be available on Youtube for two months.

The term “virtual” relates only to the mode of delivery of the recital and underplays the intimate atmosphere the musicians create for the listener. The journey starts with the red curtains opening onto the stage of the the four maestros sitting in the West Sussex Countryside. From there on we are drawn into their individual and collective emotional and spiritual interpretations of works ranging from Peter Warlock to Leonard Bernstein.

They begin as a Quartet playing an arrangement of Peter Warlocks Capriol Suite , comprised of six sparkling movements, 5 loosely based on ancient Elizabethan tunes. The sense of dance is strong in each, from the graceful glide of the Basse-Danse to the slashing of dissonant chords fighting their way to a courteous end in the Mattachins or Sword Dance.

The four musicians then separate into solo or duet performances each starting with an informative synopsis of their chosen pieces. Amanda begins with Songe Capricorne by Roland Dyens .The daydream nature of the piece starts as a wistful contemplation of all that could have been with glittering harmonics shifting into a darker mood which ends in acceptance. Augustin Bardi's lively Tango captures the flirtatious tension of mutual attraction and frustrated love in the heat of Buenos Aires. Amanda ends with two beautiful song arrangements from the 1930's. The first is “My Romance” by Rodgers and Hart . The second is an upbeat arrangement of Marks and Simons song “All of me ” despite the lyrics speaking of the loss of self when love departs.

There follows an arrangement of Bach's piano prelude in C major performed by Mark Ashford and his metaphorical and literal mirror self displaying his technical videoing wizardry. In the simplest of keys , an intimate conversation between his two selves , discusses all thoughts and fears of human existence but ends on a major chord of positivity. Mark then takes us to the more familiar ,enchanting but mysterious sounds of Albeniz's Granada and ends with the pounding and mesmerising rhythms of the Celtic “Spatter the Dew”.

Mark Eden and Chris Stell coalesce and form their famous duo to perform three Cancion y Danzas or “Songs and Dance ” written by Mompou.These are based on popular Catalan folksongs or hymns where lyricism and rhythm contrast. The exquisitely lyrical melodies resonate from each guitar and paint a picture of bucolic landscapes of Catalan or Galicia. Each plays with an intuitive sense of when they should sound above the other and when to dissolve into one.

The concert ends with the four reuniting to perform Bernstein's “ I feel pretty ” as a final twist to their eclectic repertoire.

The West Sussex Guitar Club would like to thank Vida Quartet for supporting us with their uplifting performance and we hope that you can find time to listen and share this inspiring concert with others. WSGC is a charity which aims to promote the classical guitar to all ages. We will be paying the performers from the Club's own funds but would welcome any donations , made through the website , to support these inspiring musicians.