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Concert reviews ~ 2014/2015 season

Saturday 11th October 2014

Paul Roberts

Review of concert by Paul Roberts - piano

Paul Roberts

Olé! Un grand tour de force.

 Works by Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Granados and Albeniz

Saturday saw the new season off to a good start. An enthusiastic audience at Dr Challoner's High School, Little Chalfont, was entertained to a special evening of the sounds of Spain in piano music written by early 20c. French and Spanish composers.
Paul Roberts brought to life the traditions of gypsy music and rhythms. You could hear the flamenco guitar and sense the drama of the dancing, vividly imitated on the piano. His playing conjured up the rich atmosphere of the cities of Granada and Cordoba, especially.
Curiously some of the most recognisable pieces were originally written for the piano but subsequently transcribed and popularised by all the great Spanish guitar players.
The audience much appreciated the scene-setting in Paul's comments and also his analysis of the structure of the music and the inter-relationship of the composers of this period.
A most enjoyable evening; everyone went away in the rain happily dreaming of Spanish sunshine and sultry evenings!


Saturday 8th November 2014

The Dante String Quartet

Review of recital by Krysia Osostowitz and Oscar Perks violins, Yuko Inoue Viola and Richard Jenkinson Cello

Dante Quartet

 Quartet in D major, Op 64 No.5 'The Lark' Haydn 
 Quartet No.2 in D Kodaly 
 Quartet in D minor D810 'Death and the Maiden' Schubert 

The programme started with a Haydn quartet called (not by the composer) "The Lark" and catalogued as Op.64 No.5, it is significant as this was written for a performance in London. Haydn after years of service for Prince Esterhazy was starting to travel!
The work gets its name because of the opening with a long outpouring of melody from the first violin.
How remarkable are the quartets of Haydn - they contain a lifetime of listening!

The second work was the String Quartet No.2 by Kodaly, composed between 1916 and 1918. With Bartok he had spent many years collecting folk songs and although he does not quote them directly their influence can be felt.
The first movement has from its first notes an introspective mood. There are moments when pizzicato passages lighten the mood but it is a very subdued D major! The usual three movements are replaced by a single movement that does however reflects the more usual structure. There is no very obvious "Sonata" form - the music is in episodes that evolve and merge, the writing is such that the process seems natural and unforced.
This requires playing of the utmost sensitivity which the Dante Quartet achieved. I suspect, as they have recently released a recording of the work, they are very familiar with it. On a personal note I have persuaded myself that I have room on my shelves for one more recording!

The concert ended with a major work by Schubert, the quartet in D minor D810 "Death and the Maiden." Oscar Perks, the second violin, explained that the second movement is based on the Schubert song of that name but that we should not feel horror at the thought of "the Grim Reaper" and the girl - that the situation is more of relaxation and release. I was not convinced!
This is one of the masterpieces that the composer wrote in his dying years that are among the peaks of 19th century musical achievement.
We heard a matchless performance - we have enjoyed many evenings over the years of great music superbly performed. This was one of those evenings.

The Amersham Concert Club has tried several times to present this outstanding Quartet and at last we have succeeded.

Saturday 7th February 2015

Martyn Jackson and Alison Rhind

Review of concert by Martyn Jackson - violin, accompanied by Alison Rhind - piano

Martyn Jackson and Alison Rhindt

Sonata in G major, K379 ~ Mozart
Sonata in G minor ~ Debussy
Romanian Folk Dances ~ Bartok
Sonata in E minor ~ Elgar
Caprice d'après l'Etude
en forme de Valse de Saint-Saens ~ Ysaye

Amersham Concert Club had a real treat on Saturday evening with a recital by a talented young violinist, Martyn Jackson, accompanied by Alison Rhind. Alison is much sought after as an accompanist and it was our good fortune that she was free to take the place of the scheduled pianist who was ill.

Martyn and Alison's programme covered a wide range of feelings from the romance of Elgar's Violin Sonata in E minor to the drama of Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. In Debussy's Violin Sonata in G minor the composer shows, at the end of his life, great originality and mastery of this musical form.

The concert opened with the rarely-heard Sonata in G by Mozart, an amazing piece in which the instrumental roles are notably independent though the piano enjoys prominence. The concert concluded with a thrilling performance of the virtuosic Etude by Ysaye, based on a piece by Saint-Saens that admirably showed off Martyn's talent to the full.

Saturday 7th March 2015

Sterling Trio

Review of concert by Sarah Atter ~ Flute, Thomas Verity ~ Clarinet, Lauren Hibberd ~ Piano

Sterling Trio

Reverie Russe ~ Cavallini
Trio Sonata ~ Bach
Techno-Parade ~ Guillaume Connesson
Lo, Here the Gentle Lark ~ Sir Henry Bishop
Invocation ~ Howard Blake
Grand Fantasia ~ Sir Malcolm Arnold

An enthusiastic audience at Amersham Concert Club's recital on 7th March was treated to a most enjoyable evening of music by the Sterling Trio. Sarah Atter (flute), Thomas Verity (clarinet) and Lauren Hibberd (piano) are passionate about their unusual combination of instruments and this came across to the audience very clearly throughout the evening. Much of their programme was unfamiliar to the audience but members of the Trio introduced each piece beautifully. Starting with a delightful piece by Cavallini, "Reverie Russe", the evening progressed through the Trio's own transcription of a Bach Trio Sonata with a bass clarinet taking the cello part - the first time this instrument has been heard in the Club's history. The first half finished with a piece by Guillaume Connesson called "Techno-Parade". Written in 2002, this was described as a 21st century take on the folk / classical fusion music of the early 20th century. Another first for the Club, this piece which included brushing the piano strings and flutter-tonguing from the flautist, was warmly received by the audience.

The second half began with a lovely performance of Sir Henry Bishop's 19th century aria "Lo, Here the Gentle Lark" before moving on to three modern pieces, including "Pennillion" by Sir Howard Blake, best known for composing the music to the film "The Snowman". Throughout this varied and very well-structured programme, the two woodwind instruments combined wonderfully, whilst Lauren Hibberd brought a lovely delicacy to her piano part but maintained a strong underlying structure to the music. The communication and understanding shown by all three musicians was most impressive. As an encore, after the humour and liveliness of Sir Malcolm Arnold's "Grand Fantasia", we heard another beautifully quiet piece, "Archangel's Lullaby" by Howard Blake.

Many of the audience commented on how much they had enjoyed the evening and the opportunity to hear new works performed so ably.

The Club's season ends on 28th March with a lecture recital on Mozart and his Contemporaries, by the very popular pianist, singer and speaker, Peter Medhurst when details of the Club's 49th season, starting in October, will also be available. Tickets are available by visiting the programme page or 01494 765 420.

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