Craig Ogden concert review

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Craig Ogden concert review

Postby pmiklitz » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:55 pm

Hi All,

I had the pleasure to listen to a concert by Australian born guitarist Craig Ogden yesterday, so here is a little review, in case you have never heard him play before, like myself (until yesterday that is).

He was the first guitarist I have seen live in concert not using a footstool. Instead he had a fold-out leg rest (no idea what make) attached to his Greg Smallman guitar. The latter also had an armrest attached which covered most of the guitar's lower bout.

He started the concert with three movements (Prelude, Gavotte en Rondeau and Gigue) from Bach's Lute Suite BWV 1006a in E major. He began the Prelude way too faste for my taste and hence seemed to struggle quite a bit resulting in some missed notes, noise and a few short interruptions, which he ignored professionally, just playing on as if nothing happened. The two following movements still had some minor issues, but were played well with clear dynamics.

Unlike some other guitarists, he likes to talk to the audience and is very sympathetic and funny. His first little speech was addressing the fact that he did not play the whole Bach Suite, which would have been considered a faux-pas in the past, but is now en vogue again. He mentioned that fact that guitarists have to tune a lot between pieces, especially if the latter require scordatura, so the talking would allow the strings to settle, requiring only little retuning before he can start the next piece. He also pointed out that it is arguably more fun to listen to the guitar on a CD, because you don't have all the tuning between the pieces.

The next piece was Walk Dance by Serbian guitarist Miroslav Tadic. This was based on a folk tune and used a special right hand technique, i.e. playing multiple strings each with both the thumb and one finger simultaneously. He played this very percussive and insteresting piece with the typical sound of Eastern European folk music brilliantly.

Next came two Tango arrangements of Astor Piazolla pieces (Milonga del Angel and La Muerte del Angel) played flawlessly with lots of verve, virtuosity and musicality.

His following interpretation of Recuerdos de la Alhambra was professional, with a nice tremolo tone, but one could notice that it didn't really challenge him enough to put much musical effort into it, which is not surprising for such an overplayed piece.

The last piece before the break was Barrios' Vals op. 8 No. 4, which seemed to be more down his alley, hence he interpreted it with the same musical dedication he had shown in the Piazolla arrangements.

After the break he played Sevilla and Asturias (the latter in the original Segovia arrangement). I never tire of these, as the music is timelessly excellent and he played them very well both musically and technically. His speech before these addressed the need to remove lots of notes from the piano originals to make them playable on the guitar, leading to many arrangements of these pieces differing in difficulty depending on how many notes have been left out.

The speech before the next piece, Django Reinhardt's "Nuages" arranged ecellently by Roland Dyens, addressed guitarists' obsession with their right hand fingernails and what you can do if they break before a concert. He said that he had seen students grow their left hand thumbnail to cut it off and use it as a replacement for a broken fingernail in case of disaster. Less pleasantly he mentioned that others also grow their toenails for the same purpose. :D

Despite the technical difficulty and his (as he admitted himself) lack of experience with playing Jazz music, he played the piece brilliantly and one could tell he enjoyed it, because he started tapping his right foot.

The concert ended with two pieces by Gary Ryan, "Lough Caragh" and "Rondo Rodeo". The first is based on an Irish folk song arranged and played very lyrically in D with a dropped D tuning. It reminded me a bit of Leo Brouwer's Cancion de Cuna in the same key. The second piece is a fun piece sounding like Bluegrass Banjo music, so an ideal piece to finish a fun concert.

The encore was a piece written by Craig Odgen himself for an advertising campaign for Emirates airline. The latter had engaged him for writing the music to endorse flights to Australia, but he didn't tell them that he had never composed anything before apart from some "not very good" pieces for his MA in music. Nevertheless, the piece turned out quite well and had a pleasantly sounding ABA structure describing the sunrise (part A), a typical sunny Australian day (B) and the sundown (part A again).

All in all a very pleasant evening and the perfect conclusion of an otherwise very busy Friday at work.

Cheers,

Peter
Last edited by pmiklitz on Sun May 06, 2012 12:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby carlos » Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:32 pm

Peter. Quite a thorough review. Thanks for sharing your comments. Anything you wish to add on the Smallman guitar he played, would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby Luckynp » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:34 pm

Nice review, Peter. For general information, Craig uses a Gitano rest.
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby DerekB » Fri May 04, 2012 4:12 pm

Carlos

I wasn't at the concert Peter saw but I did see Craig Ogden in Macclesfield last autumn. At first I thought his guitar sounded rather like the lute Julian Bream used to play using his nails. As the concert progressed there was more variety of tone and I was impressed by the volume but the guitar lacked the Spanish sound I love.
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby Alan Green » Fri May 04, 2012 4:37 pm

I saw Craig at the South Bank Centre in London some years back playing the Aranjuez. A good day out.

He also used to turn out for the London Tango Quintet - loads of Piazolla amongst others - and I saw them in Chelmsford four (?) years ago. That was another seriously good night out.
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby 60moo » Sat May 05, 2012 1:15 am

Peter - thank you for that excellent review! What I find strange is that some people are of the opinion that classical guitar does not have a "large enough" repertoire. Here we have a concert containing some works which even long-standing guitar lovers would have never previously heard. Yet the performance appeared to have gone down very well.

Just scrolling through YouTube, my estimate is that there must be perhaps over a thousand works - which, in the right hands - would, as you've mentioned, present most satisfactorily at the concert level to all audiences.
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby pmiklitz » Sun May 06, 2012 12:47 pm

Luckynp wrote:Nice review, Peter. For general information, Craig uses a Gitano rest.


Thanks Mike!

Peter
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby pmiklitz » Sun May 06, 2012 12:53 pm

DerekB wrote:Carlos

I wasn't at the concert Peter saw but I did see Craig Ogden in Macclesfield last autumn. At first I thought his guitar sounded rather like the lute Julian Bream used to play using his nails. As the concert progressed there was more variety of tone and I was impressed by the volume but the guitar lacked the Spanish sound I love.


Hi Carlos,

The Greg smallman guitar (from 2011 according to the concert program) Craig played sounded very much like those played by John Williams. I find their sound very distinctive and pleasant, although I agree the "Spanish sound" is different.

Peter
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Re: Craig Ogden concert review

Postby pollybell » Mon May 07, 2012 5:05 pm

Thanks for the review. I saw Craig a few months back and it was a great evening. Beautiful music well played by an engaging and talents individual.
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