An Outstanding Player

MIKE WHEELER reports on Jack Hancher's Buxton Festival guitar recital


Award-winning guitarist Jack Hancher - Royal Overseas League Gold Medallist in 2022 - brought a mostly quiet, meditative programme to the Buxton Festival - St John's Church, Buxton, UK, 10 July 2023, beginning with his own transcriptions of two movements from J S Bach's Partita for solo violin No 1 in B minor, BWV 1002. Following a gentle, confiding account of the Sarabande, he kept the Bourrée's dance rhythms light on their feet.

By all accounts, Antonio José (1902-1936) would have developed into a major figure in Spanish music if the Civil War hadn't intervened. He began being rediscovered relatively recently, after a long period of neglect. His Guitar Sonata of 1933 is clearly a substantial piece, to judge from the two movements Hansher played, projecting the opening Allegro moderato's bold gestures with panache, and giving the third movement, Pavana Triste, an apt degree of introspection.

The two lute pieces by John Dowland that followed were not just an upbeat to Britten's Nocturnal after Dowland, with which the programme ended. They also made a contrasting pair between themselves, the Praeludium's small-scale, withdrawn character aptly offset the more outgoing manner and contrapuntal intricacy of the Fantasia in G.

Nocturnal itself is a set of eight variations, or 'reflections', as Britten called them, on Dowland's song 'Come, heavy sleep'. Hansher had the measure of their different characteristics, incisive in No 2, headed 'Very agitated', scurrying in 'Uneasy' (No 4) and consolatory in 'Gently rocking' (No 7). The generally low dynamic levels, though, rather diminished the impact of Dowland's tune as it softly emerged complete at the end. For his encore, Hansher gave an aptly cool, detached account of Satie's Gnossienne No 1.

Jack Hancher
Jack Hancher

In a more intimate setting the recital would have been mesmerising, but the St John's Church acoustic didn't always present Hansher to best advantage. He is an outstanding player though, no question.

Copyright © 29 July 2023 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK



 << Home              Next review >>