Purity of tone and great agility are specially characteristic of the flute. To accompany it, the guitar is very suitable, providing harmony without excessive volume. These qualities were perfectly displayed by Judith Hall (flute) and Craig Ogden (guitar) in their recital at Radlett. The classical or acoustic guitar (not to be confused with the electric guitar of modern dance music) easily fills the role of a keyboard instrument in accompanying a wind (or stringed) instrument, and has done so for centuries. As the programme demonstrated, it has become particularly associated with Spain.
The earliest and most substantial work played was the Gran Duetto Concertante, opus 52, with three movements, composed in 1812 by Giuliani, an Italian guitar virtuoso. This was easy listening, though one hankered after the flute compositions of Giuliani's more famous contemporaries - the baroque and classical periods were not otherwise represented, perhaps, at least in part, because the Boehm fingering mechanism on the flute became available in the 1840s and was exploited by composers thereafter.
The recital had begun with Entr'acte, by Jacques Ibert (1880 -1960). Although he was French, many of his works expressed Spanish sympathies. In this piece for flute and guitar, Judith Hall exemplified the rhythmic agility of the flute and also its effectiveness in slow reflective passages. Like much of the programme, this music has the impressionist nature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other Spanish pieces were the Spanish Dance No. 5 by Granados, Piece en forme de Habanera by Ravel and Recuerdos de l'Alhambra for solo guitar, by Tarrega.
As perhaps the typical impressionist composer, Debussy (1862 - 1918) was represented by three short pieces, of which the first was the well known Syrinx (la Flute de Pan), for solo flute. How well Judith exploited the limited volume and tonal resources of her instrument! Then the guitar joined in for La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin, with a familiar tune, and the lively Le petit Negre. There were pieces by Poulenc, Schlosberg and Beaser, but perhaps the most interesting work of the recital was From the Dreaming - Cave Painting, by the Australian composer Philip Houghton (1954 - ). The flute was played with consistent dexterity, and Craig Ogden on the guitar displayed special versatility. To accentuate the Aboriginal rhythms, both players tapped the bodies of their instruments.