Monday, 30 November 2015

Baroque Collective Singers - Christmas Celebration

Tickets here.
More on Facebook here.


Messe de Minuit pour Noël - Marc-Antoine Charpentier
INTERVAL - mulled wine and mince pies
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree - Elizabeth Poston
Christmas Hath Darkness - Ed Hughes
In the bleak midwinter - Harold Darke
O Radiant Dawn - James MacMillan 
Wallands CP School Choir:
Away in a Manger - Alan Woods
Calypso Carol - Michael Perry
Somewhere in my Memory - John Williams 
Good King Wenceslas - Reginald Jacques - audience carol 
O Little One Sweet - Trad arr J S Bach
Hymn to the Virgin - Benjamin Britten
Ding Dong Merrily on High - Charles Wood 
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear - Arthur Sullivan - audience carol

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

O magnum myseterium - In dulci jubilo!

Deborah Roberts - Director

Music for advent and Christmas by 
Victoria, Palestrina, Praetorius, Walter and Paminger

Saturday 5 December, 6pm

St Paul's Church, West Street, Brighton

Mince pies, mulled wine and fizz!

Tickets £12 (£10 concession) from here.

On Facebook here.

Monday, 16 November 2015

CD Reviews - November 2015

The Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter Phillips, have followed up their acclaimed 2013 release of music by John Taverner (c1490-1545) with a recording of his massive Missa Corona Spinea. Taverner was a huge influence on English composers who followed, including Tallis and Byrd, yet remarkably little is known about his life, and details about his compositions and musical appointments really only account for less than ten years of his life from 1524 to about 1530.  Yet eight masses and a number of motets and antiphons remain, and the importance of this composer in the development of English music cannot be overstated. His command of texture and form, combined with the ability to create a sense of serenity and clarity in his melodic lines is amply demonstrated in the Missa Corona Spinea.  Unlike in his other great work Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, where the virtuosity required across the six parts is more or less equal, in the Missa Corona Spinea, it is the trebles (the top soprano line) who are the stars. Right from the opening bars they are soaring on top B flats, and stay up there pretty much throughout. Not only that, but there are two significant ‘gimell’ sections – this is where one part splits into two separate lines. So here, the two trebles (Janet Coxwell and Amy Haworth on amazing form) have incredibly intricate solo lines which weave in and out of each other, underpinned by a bass line. For the second gimell, Taverner complicates matters even more by splitting the mean voice (the next voice down) too, making this a double gimell.  The resulting virtuosic intricacy is amazing, and as ever, The Tallis Scholars relish this challenge, with the trebles in particular producing effortless, crystal clear lines above the rich sonorities of the lower voices.  Taverner further accentuates the soaring top line by scoring two bass parts at the bottom, adding to the richness of the fuller choral sections.  It is not known exactly what occasion Taverner composed this amazing work for, but there is speculation that none other than Cardinal Wolsey may have commissioned it, with Henry VIII possibly present at the first performance.  The scale of this single work, at nearly 48 minutes long, is immense, but it rewards concentrated listening. You can’t help being transported by those ringing top notes and the intensity of Taverner’s complex writing. The Tallis Scholars complete the disc with Taverner’s two settings of the Easter responsary Dum transisset Sabbatum. The first of these is better known, but it is great to hear them side-by-side. Despite using the same tenor chant line, they demonstrate the composer’s skill at producing strikingly different settings within the same construct.  The text describes the women arriving at Jesus’ tomb on Easter Sunday morning, and Taverner creates a sense of awe and wonder in both settings. A worthy end to another top-notch recording from The Tallis Scholars.

Cellist Pieter Wispelwey has been joined by pianist Paolo Giacometti for the first disc in a projected six disc cycle in which he plans to record all of Schubert and Brahms’ chamber duos – predominantly composed for other instruments than the cello. Why, you might ask? Well, as he argues, some works, such as Brahms’ Clarinet Sonatas, are regularly performed on other instruments – Brahms himself published versions of these for viola. And the famed ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata, usually performed on the cello, was, as discussed with Tasmin Little’s recent Schubert disc, composed for a now defunct guitar/cello hybrid. So why now explore these works with the different sonorities of the cello? Well on the basis of this opening disc, I would tentatively agree – although I think this works better with some works than others. The Fantasie that opens the disc, a late work composed by Schubert for violin and piano, combines virtuosity with some incredibly touching moments. The cello is not quite lithe enough for the most virtuosic moments here, and Wispelwey’s tone in the higher registers is more brittle than a violin produces. However, Wispelwey and Giacometti have great fun with the piece, and they bring a fresh angle to the work as a result.  The second of the aforementioned Clarinet Sonatas by Brahms fares better, with the instrument’s natural lyricism suiting Brahms’ beautifully smooth lines well – although again here when taken to the higher reaches of the instrument, the tone becomes a little dry.  The early Schubert Sonata works well, and Wispelwey and Giacometti bring out its light, engaging spirit well. Wispelwey separates the three duos with two movements from Solo Cello Suites by Max Reger (1873-1916) – highly Romantic works, despite their obvious nod to Bach, and convincingly performed here.

(These reviews first appeared in GScene, November 2015)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Revelatory Schumann and bold Mendelssohn from András Schiff and the OAE

© Nadia F Romanini
Sir András Schiff (conductor/piano)
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Mendelssohn: Overture, The Hebrides, Op. 26

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56, 'Scottish'

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Royal Festival Hall, London
Tuesday 10 November 2015

'As fresh and uncluttered by tradition as if we were hearing it for the first time'.

'A Schumann Piano Concerto that wasn’t beaten within an inch of its life ... but one with delicacy, life and boundless energy'.

'That sense of newness that Schiff said he was aiming for was well and truly nailed'.

'An incredibly intimate and touching performance'.

Read my full review on Backtrack here.

Friday, 6 November 2015

'Heroines of the Golden Age': Intimacy and variety from Kirkby and Lindberg

Brighton Early Music Festival

Dame Emma Kirkby (soprano)
Jakob Lindberg (theorbo-lute)

Works by
Henry Lawes
William Lawes
and others

St George's Church, Brighton, Wednesday 4 November 2015

'Kirkby’s diction and communication were so crystal clear'.

'Kirkby’s execution was incredibly precise, whilst still communicating the text'.

'It was a delight to see performers so able to communicate such intimate repertoire, making for a thoroughly engaging evening'.

Read my full review on Backtrack here