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|Sunday 9th December 2018 7.30pm
La Serenissima Baroque Ensemble
Adrian Chandler Artistic director
3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 8 violins, 3 violas, 2 cellos, double bass, theorbo, harpsichord - 24 players.
Concerto for 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in D, TWV 54: D3
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767)
Concerto movement for 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in E flat
Johann Georg PISENDEL (1687 – 1755)
Concerto for violin, bassoon, strings & continuo in B flat
Giuseppe BRESCIANELLO (1690 – 1758)
Concerto movement for violin, 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings & continuo in D, BWV 1045
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)
Concerto movement for violin, strings & continuo in a
Johann Georg PISENDEL
Concerto for strings & continuo in A, RV 158
Antonio VIVALDI (1678 – 1741)
Concerto for violin, 2 oboes, bassoon, 3 trumpets, timpani, strings & continuo in D, FaWV LD4
Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688 – 1758)
Review coming shortly
|Sunday 11th November 2018 7.30pm
Steven Osborne, piano
Poulenc: 3 Novelettes
Debussy: Images Book 2
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No 7
Schubert: Piano Sonata in Bb D960
The pianist Steven Osborne enjoys an enviable reputation as an international artist, both as a solo recitalist and a concerto performer. Last Sunday evening Keswick Music Society brought this world class performer to the stage of the Theatre by the Lake. Osborne clearly has a phenomenal technique but he used this as a vehicle to take us from display and accuracy into the heart of the music. He is one of those special artists who take us into emotions far beyond what words can express and in doing so showed an empathetic understanding of what the composer was trying to convey. Like the majority of the audience, I was fully absorbed in Osborne’s performance; time seemed to stand still as he extracted from the piano every possible tone colour.
The first half of the programme consisted of works from the first half of the twentieth century. The “Three Novelettes” by the French composer Francis Poulenc opened the recital and set the hallmark for what was to follow. What the performer described as an “amuse-bouche” drew the audience straight away into a world of sensitivity and musicality. Osborne almost seemed to caress the piano as gentle sounds were coaxed out of the instrument. Poulenc’s fellow countryman Claude Debussy, the centenary of whose death we celebrate this year, used the sound of the piano to evoke images. The three pieces in “Images Book 2”, in Osborne’s opinion are a “high point” in a pianist’s repertoire. Debussy wrote them in 1907 when he was interested in the “Symbolist” movement, taking three paintings and conveying the movement or story behind the images. It would be impossible, I think, to hear a pianist play with more control of dynamics than Steven Osborne. Every note was there in the first two pieces “Bells through the leaves” and “the moon sets over the temple” but yet the sound was so quiet that it was almost imperceptible. The third of the pieces “Goldfish” is acknowledged to be one of the most difficult works in a pianist’s repertoire. Osborne’s control of dynamics, shading, crescendi and diminuendi was incredible.
Written in the Second World War, the Russian composer Prokofiev’s “Piano Sonata no.7” made an extreme contrast with the delicacy of the previous works. The harsh brutality, aggression, and brittle percussiveness of the first and last movements fully conveyed the feeling of “anxiety” which Prokofiev was trying to portray. However, particularly in the lushness of the quasi Rachmaninov central movement came an almost romantic feeling. Osborne once again, though his mastery of the piano, was able to put across the dichotomy of these two ideas.
Franz Schubert wrote his Piano Sonata in B Bb major D.960 in the last few months of his life. A sonata full of lyricism Osborne made the piano sing. Apart from the Scherzo and Trio all the movements are long and with an intensity of emotion that only a pianist of Osborne’s calibre could maintain. One could palpably feel the gamut of emotions Schubert went through in these last few months of his life, dying at the age of only 31. Contrasting with the beauty of Schubertian melodies came expressions of anger and physical pain that the composer must have been experiencing. This was a performance never to be forgotten and a real insight into the mind of Schubert.
In his youth Steven Osborne spent many summers at the Lake District Music Festival founded by his teacher Renna Kellaway. During that time he became a friend of Derek Hook the owner of Zefferelli’s in Ambleside. As an encore and a birthday present for Derek, Osborne performed a jazz improvisation on Kenny Wheeler’s “Kind folk”.
Review by John Cooper Green
|Sunday 14th October 2018 7.30pm
Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch
Hagai Shaham violin, Arnon Erez piano,
Raphael Wallfisch cello
Schubert: Nocturne in E flat major op. 148
Beethoven: Trio in G major op. 1 no.2
Dvorak: Trio no.3 in F minor op. 65
A splendid Keswick Music Society recital by the Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch drew a large audience to the Theatre by the Lake to enjoy a programme of Viennese and Czech music. The chamber music genre combining violin, cello and piano is special in that it has always attracted distinguished soloists to step sideways from their main careers as concerto and recital soloists to savour more intimate music making with friends.
Thus Heifetz, Oistrakh and Stern all formed stellar trios. Violinist Hagai Shaham, cellist Raphael Wallfisch and pianist Arnon Erez belong to the same category of outstanding musicians and who, fortunately for us, chose in 2009 to stick together and travel the international chamber music circuit.
Their programme started gently with Schubert’s Notturno, a single movement discarded for some reason but seen by some as anticipating the Adagio of his String Quintet. The calm static harmonies of the opening were sustained and shaped by the string players most sensitively and the energetic middle section despatched with sprightly authority. Next came Beethoven – his Trio op.1 no.2 which already shows signs of his urge to do things differently. As in Haydn and Mozart’s Trios the piano still has the main share of the musical material, but more melodic lines are entrusted to the strings, especially the cello who contributes expressive bass lines in the Largo free from the pianist’s left hand and starts the Scherzo all on his own. Balance between the parts was exemplary throughout, aided by Arnon Erez’s clarity and poise in his passage work and the graded dynamics he produced from the model B Steinway – an ideal size of instrument for chamber music. So many corners were turned with convincing grace or humour – Hagai Shaham’s hesitation as he introduced the perky second subject of the first movement and many moments in the brisk Finale. Beethoven certainly inherited Haydn’s sense of humour in this movement with its headlong opening and constant animation. The brilliant string playing (fine bow control and sharp articulation) was matched by equally impressive piano gymnastics in a performance of stylish energy.
More serious fare followed the interval: Dvořák’s Trio in F minor is on a large scale with a wide emotional range from turbulence to serenity and it certainly suited the Trio’s exceptional musical and technical abilities. From the subdued opening the mood soon changes to defiance and Dvorak’s abundance of musical ideas builds the movement into one of monumental scale. The players revelled in this wild and ardent music with finely controlled yet full-blooded tone and expression. The middle two movements offer some relief from this urgency. The Scherzo is marked grazioso and ambles pleasantly with a dreamy middle section – a chance for the players to take it easy. The slow movement plumbs deeper depths with an opening cello solo that Raphael Wallfisch played with immaculate and moving phrasing. A martial episode provides some contrast but the slow themes predominate and received glowing treatment from both string players. The Finale returns to stir the blood with Dvorak enjoying the cross rhythms of the Czech furiant – infectious ideas at which he excelled. The Trio continued their committed and technically flawless journey through this complex piece, lilting the second, waltz-like theme and making the most of another Dvorak speciality: his final vivace coda – a short but dynamic sprint that crowned a memorable concert .
Review by John Upson
|Sunday 23rd September 2018 7.30pm
Septura Brass Septet
Huw Morgan, Alan Thomas, James Fountain trumpets
Matthew Gee, Matthew Knight, Dan West trombones
Sasha Coushk-Jalali tuba
Bridging La Manche – England and France in harmony
Robert Parsons: Ave Maria
Josquin des Prez: Ave Maria a 6 (i.e. for 6 players)
Henry Purcell: The Married Beau
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Suite from Dardanus
Hubert Parry: Songs of Farewell
Claude Debussy: Préludes
Maurice Ravel: Trois Chansons
Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Turtle Dove
A large and appreciative audience at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake was treated to a magnificent concert last Sunday by Septura Brass. Comprising seven of the UK’s finest trumpet, trombone and tuba players; among them principals of the BBC Symphony, the Philharmonia and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras; this opening concert for Keswick Music Society’s 2018-19 season was music-making of the very highest quality.
Septura’s “counter-factual” mission is to re-imagine the brass septet’s existence for the past 400 years and the music that might have been written for it. By arranging great composers’ works and playing with great style and musicality they aim to put the brass septet firmly on the musical map. Judging by last week’s concert they are well on course.
The concert contrasted English and French music over the centuries and opened with two versions of the Ave Maria by the 16th century composers Parsons and Josquin, starting with the sonorous chorales of the Parsons version.
The collective precision of Septura’s playing, and the beautiful tonal and dynamic balance between the players meant you could hear each of the 7 instruments’ lines perfectly, within a cohesive sound that at times almost resembled a cathedral organ. This was chamber music playing out of the top-drawer, but with a sound to fill the biggest of halls. In the second version of the Ave Maria, the Eb trumpet soared above Josquin’s intricate interplay of ancient melodies; producing harmonies that at times sounded quite modern.
This was followed by two suites of dances by Purcell and Rameau, interspersing slow courtly minuets and lyrical airs with lively hornpipes and gigues in canon form. These movements allowed the musicians to demonstrate their virtuosic technical skills: the trumpets and trombones bouncing phrases off each other to great effect in the Purcell; brilliant descending scales played in perfect unison in the Rameau; and some lovely mellow echo effects from the tuba and trombones balanced with exceptional tone production from trumpets playing high up the register.
The second half juxtaposed one of Parry’s Songs of Farewell with arrangements of piano pieces by Debussy. The reworking of Parry’s very English pastoral respected Parry’s own skills as an orchestrator, and the group’s beautifully articulated sonority conveyed a real sense of longing and melancholy. By contrast the Debussy offered a variety of timbres and colours, especially in the movement where the trumpets used a different mute almost every other phrase. This was very imaginative arranging, sparkling playing, and yet still very convincing Debussy.
The programme closed with versions of Ravel’s Trois Chansons; three jolly folk-songs, and Vaughan Williams’ The Turtle Dove. Originally written for baritone and chorus, this arrangement featured a superbly played euphonium solo.
Septura’s music does sound like pieces originally written for brass. The arrangers’ respect for and stylistic interpretation of the original scores, and above all the precision and musicality of playing by Septura’s members, produces great music which the original composers would surely have recognised as their own.
Review by Mike Richardson