Archive for December, 2013

Review of the piano recital given by Gabriel Escudero in the Palacio de la Musica de Torrevieja this Sunday night, 22nd December 2013

December 24, 2013

When I decided to attend a piano recital in the Palacio de la Musica in

Torrevieja because it was for a charity that is very close to my heart, I

was not expecting anything  out of the ordinary. When the , humble

figure of Spanish-born Gabriel Escudero arrived on stage, I was

still unprepared.

Then, as he confidently ran his fingers over the keys of the grand piano

to begin his first piece, I was amazed. This pianist really knew his stuff

and knew how to get the most from the instrument, no matter how

sensitive or how technical the demands.

The programme was well selected and included works by Mozart,

Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Schumann and Liszt –

all favourites of best of pianists. He brought out such musicality in

the ‘Fantasia’ by Mozart, that I was questioning whether it was a

piece by Beethoven, so advanced and effective was the expression.

The contrasts this phenomenal pianist was able to display were

amazing. He played the Hayden sonata with strength, security

and clarity – exactly what is required for this popular composer.

In the second movement, Gabriel’s ability to incorporate lengthy

embellishments so seamlessly was awe-inspiring.

In his offerings by Tchaikovsky, the character of the pieces were

wonderfully well displayed while his Rachmaninov and Chopin

reflected these composer’s psyches perfectly. Rachmaninov’s

underlying sense of anguish  was never lost amid amazing bouts

of virtuosic display. Chopin’s melancholic reflection was beautifully

integrated with more technical wizardry in the composer’s own

inimitable style.

It was hard to believe that things could get any better, but the final

pieces of Schumann and Liszt were wonderful and Gabriel  maintained

perfect control while the music flowed from exquisitely clear melodic

developments to incredible gymnastics that only the most accomplished

of performers would dare consider playing. For Gabriel, this was obviously

his delight to master and exhibit. He had the audience transfixed.

His encore, an arrangement of Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’, was

very well deserved and the audience rose to their feet as they applauded

in appreciation.

The charity was very ably organized by president, Matilde, of the AFA

(Asociación Alzheimer de Familiares y Amigos de Torrevieja).

For more information about the association, contact www.afatorrevieja.es.

December 8, 2013

Review of the concert entitled ‘Peace on Earth’ by Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir in St. Mary’s Church, Ely on Sunday 8th December 2013

Andrew Parnell directed a highly enjoyable and uplifting evening celebrating the Christmas Season in St. Mary’s Church Ely on Sunday. The programme was very well designed and showed the choir at its best. Items seemed to include the usual Christmas Carol favourites until they were performed when we discovered that the traditional tunes were not always used. However, there was still plenty of opportunity for audience participation in the traditional carols we know such as ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘Joy to the World’, ‘We Three Kings’ and ‘God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen’.

The first half of the programme interestingly featured mostly local composers including Andrew, Tim Alban-Jones, John Rutter, John Lawson Baker, David Ford, and Dr Arthur Wills, (Honorary President of Ely Choral Society). Their respective compositions were all very pleasing and well performed by the Choir and/or Ely Youth Choir. Rutter’s The Angel Carol’ sung by Ely Youth Choir was especially commendable with a fine baritone addition.  Dr Wills’ arrangement of ‘The Coventry Carol’ was one of the most spectacular that demonstrated how well Ely Choral Society can master Wills’ unique compositional style that has no holds barred when it comes to dramatic expression. Throughout the evening Edmund Aldhouse accompanied superbly on the church organ as required.

After interval Gustav Holst’s ‘’Christmas Day’ set the mood well and a series of carols and readings rounded the concert off beautifully. Highlights for me were ‘Mary’s Child’ by Geoffrey Ainger, arranged by William Llewellyn and what I know as ‘The Shepherd’s Farewell’ by Berlioz sung by the Ely Choral Society. The readings were also well chosen, reflecting the themes of ‘peace’ and ‘Christmas’ most appropriately. The readers included Sylvia Bulley, Jeremy Friend-Smith, Ellis Hociej, and John Bedford who read works by Henry Longfellow, John Betjeman, Maya Angelou and Seamus Heaney.

Ely Choral Society’s next event will be ‘Requiem and Vesperae Selennes de Confessore’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 12th April 2014 at 730 pm.

For further information contact http://www.elychoralsociety.org

Review of ‘Winter Wonderland’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 7th December 2013

December 7, 2013

Ely Cathedral is the ideal venue for a ‘Winter Wonderland’ and the large appreciative audience was given a feast of music in the concert so named.

With the Director of Music of Ely Cathedral at the helm, we were bound to have a good time and indeed, we did. There was never a dull moment. Looking at the programme, we could see a lot of ‘old favourites’ but with nearly every performance, there was some kind of surprise awaiting us.

Ely Cathedral Choir was glorious as usual, and their unaccompanied songs were of the highest quality and included special versions of ‘Follow that Star’, ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Chestnuts Roasting’, ‘Mary’s Boychild’ and ‘Just Another Star’. ‘We need a little Christmas’ with piano accompaniment by Edmund Aldhouse was splendid.

Ely Imps and the choristers produced a beautiful sound when it was their turn and they featured in some very agreeable arrangements with the remainder of Ely Cathedral Choir and with the Band in ‘Mary’s Child’, ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, ‘Angel told you to go’, ‘Away in a Manger’, ‘Coconut Carol’, and ‘Good King Wences-ska’. The alteration of the last familiar carol’s title is an indication of what happened frequently in this entertaining event. Familiar carols were given a make-over by local composer, band leader, keyboard player, Pat Brandon. He and his jazz band provided many interesting moments. The other band members were Paul Stubbs (trumpet and fluegelhorn), David Franklin (saxophones: soprano, tenor and baritone), Ivan Garford (double bass) and Derek Scurll (drums).

As we all joined in with ‘I’m dreaming of a White Christmas’, the ‘snow’ began to fall from up high in the octagon and the concert was brought to a fitting, seasonal close.   

The proceeds of the concert will benefit Ely Cathedral and Maggie’s Wallace. Maggie’s Wallace is a charity that supports people with cancer as described in a moving speech by a representative Alyson Luff immediately after interval.

Contacts for further information:

Maggie’s Wallace tel: 01223 249220

Ely Cathedral Choir tel: 01353 660336 or  p.trepte@cathedral.ely.anglican.org

Ely Imps tel: 01353 664470 a.mizen@cathedral.ely.anglican.org

Review of the King School Ely’s production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ on Wednesday 4th December in the Hayward Theatre Ely

December 4, 2013

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is a school production that has certainly stood the test of time since its arrival in the ‘60s. This production by King’s Company played never missing an opportunity to exploit its kaleidoscopic possibilities.  From the ups and downs of Joseph, the shenanigans of the brothers and huge cultural variety ranging from Elvis (complete with that familiar curled lip and pulsating leg), hip-swaying calypso (complete with grass skirt and sudden arrive of a palm tree), luxuriating moments of melancholic French/Jewish nostalgia and a touch of the can-can  to American country and western, this highly colourful and entertaining show had all that it takes to captivate the audience while telling the story of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat effectively. It was packed with wonderful characterization, smooth flowing tableaux of a phenomenal number of participants and no end of hilarious episodes that revelled in ‘taking the mick’ .

The music, songs and orchestra, was first-rate. Under the Directorship of Peter North, the singing was clear, expressive and moved gracefully and effectively into wonderful part-singing. The accompaniments were particularly well orchestrated and added considerable colour and comedy. Stage movements, choreography and timing were noticeably well designed and effective.

The performers were outstanding: Joseph (played by Elric Dowell), the three narrators (Fiona Campbell, Georgia Schneider and Anna Willis), Pharaoh (Matt Ley), Potiphar (Philip Hicks), Mrs. Potiphar (Emma Jones), Jacob and the brothers, the dancers, the chorus, and the Children’s Choir. They filled the stage with sheer joyous entertainment. It was no wonder nights were ‘sold out’!

Congratulations must go to Director Nick Huntingdon for such a successful effort from a joint senior and junior joint production.

After such a marvellous evening, we look forward to the events in March next year which include two separate intriguing productions: ‘Heritage’ and ‘Honk’.