Review: Perfect setting for intense guitar concert in Ullenhall

The Vickers-Bovey Guitar Duo
The Vickers-Bovey Guitar Duo
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Clive Peacock review the Vickers-Bovey Guitar Duo at St Mary the Virgin church, Ullenhall

Classical guitarist, Vickers and Bovey could not have dreamed of a more peaceful venue than the delightful Ullenhall Church set amidst the silent fields of mid Warwickshire. During an intense first half of their relentlessly expressive concert, not a single cough, not a birdsong, not a traffic noise - just one bleat from a distant sheep was heard. This gave the duo the most perfect platform to impress with precision delivering a classical guitar exhibition of note.

Since winning the Leamington Music Prize in 2014, the Vickers and Bovey duo has gained international success in competitions in the US, released the first CD and made their Wigmore Hall debut; and all this a self-managed pair.

Both maintain their passion for contemporary music, playing examples of works by Gary Ryan, an RCM tutor, and Nikita Koshkin, a Russian classical guitarist brought up under the influence of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. Showing respect for early pioneers of the guitar genre, the programme included works by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco who took inspiration from Bach’s early work, The Well-Tempered Clavier. Emotionally piercing, memorably improvised sounds emerged, sometimes reminiscent of Segovia’s early years. Add to this the clever ‘downtuning’ necessitated by Ryan’s work and precise guitar dialogues in the stillness of the church which permitted the audience to enjoy the intensity of the occasion.

Clever interlocking action between players, fanning of strings, constant changing of instrument pitch and use of the instrument bodies for added percussion involvement increased the challenge to both players and audience. All were equal to the challenge.

Works by Sergio Assad, Domenico Scarlatti and the revolutionary tango expert, Astor Piazolla featured post-interval. His sonata-like tango suite keeps the extraordinary long fingers of both Vickers and Bovey very busy during their prize-winning choice, with perfect timing displaying the versatility of their instruments.