The Scotsman 

Classical review: Simon Thacker, Paxton House, Music at Paxton Festival

Published on Thursday 19 July 2012


Thacker is a classical guitarist of consummate skill, intuitive musicality and impressive agility in his dexterous finger work. As he faced Allan Ramsay’s portrait of Lady Caroline d’Arcy with her guitar in Paxton House’s acoustically well-suited Picture Gallery, Thacker approached Ponce’s Sonatina Meridional with lots of fine, delicate detail. Technical assurance was the vehicle for rustic, Spanish colouring before the more fragile, enigmatic sounds of Japanese composer Minoru Miki’s Ballade No 2.

The Chaconne from Bach’s D minor Partita, written for violin, took on a gentle gravitas in its guitar version, beautifully yet simply stated through Thacker’s impeccable precision. Even more challenging was Britten’s Nocturnal after John Dowland, an extended exposition of the song Come, Heavy Sleep. Its fiendish demands culminated in a monumental passacaglia.

In repertoire spanning over 250 years, Nigel Osborne’s mysteriously atmospheric After Night, of 1977 was the most recent. His only piece so far for solo guitar, it is one with which Thacker has especially close affinity. Perhaps even more virtuosic was Ginastera’s guitar masterwork written one year earlier, which called for all sorts of weird and wonderful techniques across the strings and body of the instrument.