Review: ECOE & Craig Ogden – Bach to Beatles Tour @ SDH

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English Chamber Orchestra Ensemble & Craig Ogden – Bach to Beatles Tour
Saint David’s Hall
Thursday 8th December 2016

There has been a mighty buzz about the musicianship and good looks of Montenegrin guitar player Miloš Karadaglić. Appearing on the previous cover of the International Concert Series, many people here have been itching to hear him play.

Sadly this is the second time he has had to cancel in Cardiff due operations on his hand, which must be the worst thing to happen to a guitarist. He was our compére for the evening in a very apologetic stance and felt he had to explain all what had happened. He would later be seen adjusting the musicians seats and stands for the coming pieces.

Taking over once again his role was Australian guitarist Craig Ogden. Miloš choice of music was the huge pallet of Bach to the Beatles and everything in between. Snobs would be squashed at an event like this, as the guitar frequently proves its flexibility in the various musical genres it utilises. It would be interesting to hear more experimental work for the instrument though…

Ogden plays with effortless musical ability. The doubtful intimacy of the hall is created by his playing (with some amplification) and some super lighting. Each piece he plays by Bach, the famous Tárrega/Albeniz guitar recollections, the Latin flavoured Villa Lobos and The Girl from Ipanema are all laid back, accessible music that wash away the anxieties of the day’s worries.

The playing of ECOE is also rivalling the great ensembles of the world. These strings players have such an intensity and sense of form. They alone maintained half of the night’s programme. Even their version of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings was a gut bustingly emotional opener to the second part of the concert.

A real highlight of the night were the transcriptions of Beatles songs. These were a delicious, toe taking way to wrap up the night, even with nine songs it never felt overblown. There was a swell trio of guitar solo version, fabulous guitar and double bass (James Opstad was outstanding) and marvellous arrangements for guitar and the strings. My faves would have to be Yesterday, Fool on a Hill and Eleanor Rigby (the later is a personal favourite). Toru Takemitsu has created some strident versions of these classic songs in a resurgence to the great Liverpudlian mega band.

Craig ended with a few encores and we could have all stayed for much longer, had Saint David’s not wanted them finished by 10pm.

We hope to hear Miloš next year!

Third times a charm.

Rating: 4 stars.


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