Posts Tagged ‘concert’

Review of Ely Consort’s In memoriam concert on Saturday 1st December in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel

December 3, 2018

Ely Consort is a name to be reckoned with. This must be one of the best choirs in the district. It isn’t until you hear good quality music produced by an excellent choir like this that you realize what you have been missing. Director Matthew Rudd really knows how to shape and develop a beautiful, well balanced sound and how to vary the pace, rhythm and dynamics to create mesmerising effects.

Russian Orthodox Church music brings to mind deep bass voices singing in open harmony. Tonight we certainly had the gorgeous deep basses and also a well produced tone in each of voice parts. With the gorgeous sound this choir produced echoing round the Lady Chapel it was easy to imagine we were transported into the depths of Russia.

The theme of the evening: remembrance, commemoration and reconciliation was well reflected in the pieces. The programme was based around Rachmaninov’s unaccompanied ‘All Night Vigil’.  The powerful richness of the voices was apparent from the start. Singing in Russian, this choir’s attention to detail, its expressiveness and precision were exceptional.

Other works included David Bednall’s ‘To a Missing Friend and ‘The Soldier’, a delightfully refreshing ’Do not Stand at my Grave and Weep’ by David Jepson, the tumultuous ‘Ring out, Wild Bells’ by Jonathan Dove and the first performance of a commissioned work by Sarah Quartel ‘’Hope’ is the thing with feathers’.

Sarah’s work was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening. Her charming lyrical piano accompaniment and the way she coloured the words so adorably and effectively made this piece most effective. The sense of the lightness of a fluttering bird, rising above the storms in life was never lost.

Charlie Penn’s accompaniments were superb. He achieved amazing effects in Jonathan Dove’s ‘Ring out, wild bells’.

This was indeed an excellent concert. The next events to look forward to are concert on Saturday 15th December at All Saints’ Church in Cottenham, on Saturday 16th March in Ely Methodist Church and on Saturday 29th June in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell. For more information contact info@ elyconsort.org.uk.

Advertisements

Review of Cambridge Voices; Bach to the Bard in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on Monday 29th August 2016

August 30, 2016

Ian de Massini Aug 15 emailIan de Massini, Cambridge Voices and The Orchestra of the Age of Reason are rare musicians of undoubted talent and exceptional perception. Ian’s infectious enthusiasm and musical knowledge and know-how kept us enthralled with an amazing evening that was packed with exquisite gems. Under the title ‘Bach to the Bard’ we were indeed treated to much Bach (Ian de Massini-style) and a kaleidoscope of ‘Anniversary’ items (except for a touch of Puccini near the end). When I read in the beginning of the programme that first half ‘Comprises music (almost) exclusively Bach’ I knew we were in for an intriguing almost theatrical evening of music of the highest quality and complexity infused with the very likeable personality of Ian. Not satisfied with arranging most of the music, conducting and singing, he also played the harpsichord or organ as required. His musical genius was very much in evidence.

The voices of the choir were strong, pure and balanced exactly in close harmony, the instrumentalists in The Orchestra of the Age of Reason performed with virtuosic skill and sensitivity and the choreography as the choir moved about the Lady Chapel was stunning.

Heightened magical moments for me in the first half of the programme were the vivacious opening movement from Bach’s  Cantata no 94, the vibrant flutes in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no 4, the intense fugue at the end of the 3rd movement of ‘Singet dem Herrn’, ‘Jesu, joy of man’s desiring’ and the last movement from Cantata no 182.  After interval, I was especially impressed with the sheer joy of the spirituals, the most tasteful and appropriate arrangement of the Satie pieces, the charming Elizabethan Serenade, the beautifully gelled harmonies of Vaughan Williams’ ‘Full fathom five’ and the talent of Ian’s pupil Kilian Meissner playing solo viola in ‘The Voice of St. Columba’

This was a wonderful evening and I certainly look forward to Cambridge Voices coming next year to perform Duruflé’s ‘Requiem’.

 

Review of Ely Choral Society’s ‘Carmina Burana’ concert in the Hayward Theatre on Saturday 9th July 2016

July 10, 2016

 review Ely Choral Society soloists and some of the choir July 2016

Wow! What a fantastic concert! Ely Choral Society really came into its own at the event on Saturday. The choirs had obviously worked very hard, for their precision with the very short sharp phrases in ‘Carmina Burana’ was spot on. The piano accompanists were magnificent, the soloists excellent and the percussion positively made the show. This must be the most vibrant and exciting concert the Choral Society has ever given.

The opening piece was indeed an excellent accompaniment to ‘Carmina Burana’. Written by Jonathan Dove, ‘Arion and the Dolphin’ reflected much of Carl Orff’s style, but this time we were taken into a world of water with a magical tale. The effects created by the voices, pianos and percussion were amazing.

The performance of ‘Carmina Burana’ was as exciting and spirited as anyone could hope for. The choir filled the theatre with the well known dramatic choruses, capturing the rhythmic pulsations exquisitely.  The captivated audience was given a thrilling, life-affirming experience.

Conductor Andrew Parnell and the participants are to be congratulated for such a fine performance. Taking part were: Ely Choral Society, Ely Youth Choir, pianists Maurice and Thanea Hodges, the percussion ensemble led by Will Sivier and soloists: Tara Bungard (soprano), Ashley Harries (counter -tenor) and Mark Gotham (baritone).

This was the culmination of the Isle of Ely Arts Festival. At the end of interval the Chair of the Isle of Ely Arts Festival committee, Shelia Friend-Smith, thanked those who had helped make the Festival so successful and read out the winners of the short story competition.  (These results are now on: http://www.facebook.com/ElyWritersDay).

Ely Choral Society’s next events will be on Wednesday 2nd November (Requiem, Duruflé in Ely Cathedral), Saturday 3rd December (Family Carols in St. Mary’s Church) and on Saturday 8th April 2017 (Messiah, Handel in Ely Cathedral).

further information:

http://www.elychoralsociety.org

Review of Guy Johnston ( ‘cello)  and Melvyn Tan (piano) in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 11th June 2016

June 20, 2016

After the inaugural event of the Isle of Ely Arts Festival this year, when they presented a workshop to budding young cellists, these highly talented musicians gave a concert in Ely Cathedral.

The programme was varied but the performance was constant: a performance that can only be described as outstanding. Their phenomenal technique was immediately apparent as they varied the sound and touch very effectively.

Guy produced some of the most musical and precise sounds I havereview Guy Johnston and Melvyn Tan June 16heard from a ‘cello. His prowess was exemplified by agility and clarity in the Bach, amazingly powerful and well balanced double-stopping in the Turnage, sheer beauty and sonority in the Mendelssohn, notable intensity and sensitivity in the Schubert, potent bowing in the Chopin and very moving expression in the Fauré.

His talent was well matched by Melvyn Tan’s piano playing. Melvyn accompanied with real empathy as the need arose and in the Chopin particularly, his fantastic flair and virtuosic agility were unforgettable.

This was an excellent concert, giving the Isle of Ely Arts Festival a tremendous start.

 

Review of Jong-Gyung Park’s piano concert in the Hayward Theatre on Friday 8th March 2013 as part of the King’s School Ely Concert Series

March 10, 2013

ImageEly is very fortunate. The high standard of the performers in the concerts the King’s School Ely Concert Series provides is equal to any heard in big cities Europe-wise. Tonight’s impressive performer was Jong-Gyung Park who transfixed the audience with a high-powered contrasting programme of piano music.

Her concert opened with the potent ‘Klaviersonate, op. 1’ by Alban Berg. This relatively modern work was magnificent in her hands. With an unswerving touch, every note was given its necessary role. Thoughtful phrasing, variations of expression, exquisite timing and tremendous climaxes breathed fire into this complex composition. The internal tensions were delightfully explored.

The next composition, Chopin’s ‘Sonata no.3 in B minor, op. 58’ demonstrated Chopin’s many fascinating qualities: The first movement, Allegro maestoso, featured finely – shaped lyrical beauty, the composer’s nostalgic poignancy ever-present. In the second movement, ‘Scherzo. Molto Vivace’, she captured a certain playfulness while mastering perfectly its virtuosic demands. The serenity and attention to detail in the Largo movement led to an impressive final movement, its moments of flamboyant gymnastics magnificently handled while the whole overriding musicality transfixed the listeners.

Britten’s ‘Holiday Suite’ began the second half of the programme and she captured the character of each movement exactly. One could recognize the jagged snatches of sparkling splashes of water in ‘Early morning Bathe’. The composition was further enlivened with the smoothness of ‘Sailing’ , the mischievous helter-skelter moments in ‘Funfair’ and the serene stillness of ‘Night’.

‘Piano Sonata  No.26 in Eb major, op.81a’ by Beethoven gave us a taste of Classical music, although the romantic passions of the piece were well drawn out by this phenomenal performer. Her ability to create different dimensions of sound at different registers simultaneously gave this piece significant depth. The expressiveness of the three movements, ‘Les Adieux’, ‘L’Absence’ and ‘Le Retour’ was ever apparent.

The programme ended with a mammoth composition by Ravel. This ‘La Valse’ often harked back to the light-hearted smooth rhythm of the Viennese Waltz we all know and love, but in Ravel’s hands expertly performed by the fine pianist, the waltz was transformed into mammoth proportions including gigantic gestures and phenomenal technical demands.

The well deserved encore relaxed us with a delicate and sonorous ‘Berceuse’ by Chopin.

This was indeed yet another wonderful concert provided by the King’s School Concert Series. You are advised to book early for their next events including ‘La Bohème’ on Friday 10th May 2013 730 pm.

Review of the New Year’s Concert in the International Auditorium, Torrevieja on 6th January 2013

January 8, 2013

The New Year’s Concert given by the Torrevieja Symphonic Orchestra in the International Auditorium Torrevieja on the 6th of January 2013 was a huge success. Rarely has any concert demanded three encores.

This relatively new orchestra has blossomed under the directorship of José Francisco Sánchez. From the first notes struck it was clear that these fine instrumentalists had talent and they played with impressive spirit and precision. ‘Classical Music’ is usually associated with seriousness and profundity but these players infused their performances with many moments of lighthearted humour – most fitting for the season and for the works of Johann Strauss 11 – of which there were many.

Clear articulation and exquisite control of tempi were evident in the first piece: ‘La Revoltosa’ (Preludio) by R. Chapl. Of the numerous Strauss items, the most impressive for me were the ‘Pizzicato Polka’, ‘The Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka’ and ‘Vals del Danubio Azul’ (‘The Blue Danube Waltz’). The delicacy, cohesion, humour and wonderful contrasts in volume made the ‘Pizzicato Polka’ come alive. ‘The Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka’ was also a vibrant and highly entertaining piece. In ‘The Blue Danube Waltz’ these fine players managed to give this very familiar, often hackneyed composition, soul and depth. You could easily imagine the vastness of the Blue Danube River and you soon forgot the trite versions that fill our everyday lives.

The performance of ‘La Dolores’ (Jota) with soloist Francisco Moreno provided delightful variety as did the number of actors who crept on stage and among the listeners adding their own particular humour  to thrill the audience.

However, for me, the highlight was ‘Danza Hungaras’ (‘Hungarian Dance’) no. 5 by Brahms. In this piece it was clear that this excellent orchestra has tremendous potential. The exhilarating speed, the passion, the moments of delicacy and expressively controlled tempo changes gave us a hint of future greatness. You are advised to book early for one of their next events –e.g. on Saturday 23rd March, 2100, in the Auditorio de Torrevieja- Sala de Conciertos featuring ‘Requiem de Mozart’ y’ Sinfonia no 25 en sol Menor’ .

review of Ely Consort’s ‘400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012

December 3, 2012

The concert by Ely Consort, 400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012 was magnificent – a most fitting memorial to Giovanni Gabrieli who died some 400 years ago. The concert opened with his Jubilate Deo which echoed beautifully around the Lady Chapel in true Gabrieli style.

Under the directorship of Matthew Rudd this choir has developed into a phenomenal group. A full rich tone, carefully and expressively shaped phrases, precise entries and rhythmic cohesion mark their performance every time.

This concert was especially enjoyable because of the varied programme that included many ‘old favourites’ and a number of new pieces that, even on a first hearing, were fresh, vital and contained very attractive combinations of sound.

The internal passion and exciting climaxes of Bruckner’s Christus factus est and Locus Iste, the appealing harmonies and flowing movement in Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, the stable serenity of Hassler’s Dixit Maria, the poignant discords in Mozart’s  lighter-styled Sancta Maria, mater Dei  and  more serious Ave Verum Corpus were all beautifully sung. An evening of such glorious music would have been sufficient, but this time these fine singers gave us more. The modern works by Dubra, Will Todd and Lauridsen were enthralling, using modern techniques that enhanced their musical appeal. Dubra’s Veni Sanctus Spiritus contained challenging moments for the singers that were well mastered. Will Todd’s The Call of Wisdom conveyed perfectly a sense of the serene calm of wisdom with its expansive uplifting and deeply spiritual dimensions. I can’t wait to hear the piece Will Todd is composing for Ely Consort next September 7th to celebrate Ely Consort’s 25th anniversary. The Lauridsen Nocturnes with their international appeal using different languages, captured exquisitely the special romantic potency of a warm summer’s evening.

Jonathan Lilley provided essential and empathetic accompaniment on chamber organ or piano as required. His phenomenal musicianship was very much in evidence in his solo performances of Mozart’s Fugue in Eb K.153,  A Little Gigue’ K.574 and Debussy’s Jardins sous la pluie. You could almost feel the rain on the gardens in the Debussy.

The concert ended magnificently with Poulenc’s  joyful, declarative Hodie Christus natus est.

Ely Consort’s concerts next year will be:

Saturday 9th March at St. Mary’s Church, Burwell

Saturday 22nd June at St. Andrew’s Church, Sutton and

Saturday 7th September Evensong in Ely Cathedral

Contact: http://www.elyconsort.org.uk

Rosemary Westwell

Review of Daniela Rossi (classical guitar) at the Hayward Theatre Friday 30th November 12

December 3, 2012

Classical music is not always readily associated with the guitar, but in the hands of Daniela Rossi, the instrument was proved to be ideal for conveying the most subtle of expression in the pieces she chose. Her concert in the Hayward Theatre as part of the King’s School Concert Series included pieces of different styles and from different periods and cultures.

The programme opened with Lachrimae Pavan by the English composer Dowland. It was immediately apparent that this performer had great strength of purpose that came from an internal, intuitive understanding of how the most subtle of expressions could be effectively portrayed.

In the second pie, Fantasie, op. 19 by the Italian Luigi Legnani, she demonstrated an ability to sooth the strings into merging rapid runs into a continuous flow, making them contrast well with her emphatic, strong and precise chords.

Three of the Five pieces for Guitar by the Argentinian, Astor Piazzolla, suited Daniela’s playing particularly well, reminding us of her Argentinian origins. In the first piece, Campero, her tonal variety was phenomenal, in the second Romántico she held together the sweeping strands beautifully while in the third, Acentuado, she kept the audience spellbound with her skill as a performer.

After interval, in D’Angelo’s Due Canzioni Lidie she created some particularly evocative sonorous effects in the first song and more agitated episodes in the second.

The evening culminated with Sonata para Guitarra by Antonio José from Spain. During these four movements she created amazing effects ranging from harp-like chordal progressions in the Allegro, very varied tonal levels in the Minuetto andtense insistence in the Pavana Triste to a final joyful celebration in the final movement (Finale).

This was a highly successful concert and the sizeable audience soon let the performer know how much they enjoyed the event and her two encores were enthusiastically received.

The next concert will be Trio Petrus (violin, ‘cello and piano) on Friday 18th January 7.30 pm in the Recital Hall contact Lisa Bushell (01353 653931) email: lisabushell@kingsely.org

Rosemary Westwell

review of ‘A Celebration of Male Voices’ in Ely Cathedral on October 20th 2012

October 21, 2012

 The ‘Celebration of Male Voices’ in Ely Cathedral on Saturday was a wonderful way to mark the 50th anniversary of Huntingdon Male Voice Choir. This fine choir, directed by Peter Davies, was joined by a number of other choirs and their respective conductors and accompanists: St. Stythians (Ken Downing), Basingstoke (Peter Allen and Paul Wright), St. Edmundsbury (Mark Jefferson), Northampton (Stephen Bell and Andy Poole), Alcester (Judith land) and Brighton (Iris Warren and Liz Tunmer).The overall sound this mass of male voices produced was delightful.  Local highly regarded musicians, Prime Brass, Kate Woolf (soprano) accompanist Paul Bryan and Cathedral Assistant organist Jonathan Lilley also added style to this wonderful evening.  

Most noticeable was the spine-chilling beauty of these 290 singers when they held their musical line in one long sustained soft sound. This was particularly apparent in the wonderful arrangement of the ‘National Anthem’ by Edmund Walters, ‘Lily of the Valley’ arranged by E. Jones and ‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’ by David J. Evans, arranged by Peter Davies.

Prime Brass is already established as one of the finest ensembles to play in Ely Cathedral. They presented some amazing items including Britten’s ‘Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury’, ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ by Handel arranged by P. Archibald and Chris Hazell’s ‘Three Brass Cats’. This superb group’s phenomenal technique and tonal quality brought to life these pieces, demonstrating amazing skill and alacrity while also expressing exquisitely the litheness and quirky characteristics of the three cats.

Kate Woolf sang delightfully, her lovely soprano voice giving colour, emotion and cohesion to her songs: Three Spirituals arranged and accompanied by Paul Bryan, ‘I feel so Pretty’ and ‘A Simple Song’ (from the Mass) by Bernstein.

One of the most impressive items was Jonathan Lilley’s grand performance of William Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’, a most appropriate contribution to the event.

The joint choirs culminated the concert with glorious sounds when giving full voice to ‘Old Hundredth’ (W.Kethe, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams) and ‘Festival piece on Sine Nomine’ by R. Vaughan Williams and W.M. Howe arranged by Dwight Elrich.

This was undoubtedly a highly successful celebratory event that also supported Help for Heroes.

Review of Warren Mailley-Smith’s Valentine Concert (Piano) in Ely Cathedral on 11th February 2012.

February 12, 2012

In spite of the freezing weather outside, Warren Mailley-Smith’s Valentine Concert mesmerized the audience with much warmth, vigour and excitement. Warm lyrical melodies, brilliant showmanship and treasured moments of heart- stopping reflection pervaded the excellent programme he chose to mark this romantic period of the year.

There is no doubt that Warren is one of the finest pianists in the country and his unique technique, astute musical awareness and phenomenal expressive touch combined to provide a wonderful night’s entertainment.

The programme included a host of romantic favourites including composers Beethoven, Debussy, Liszt, Grief, Prokofiev, Horowitz, Chopin and Gershwin.

The crashing chords of the opening movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata contrasted expertly the suddenly soft responses. In the first and last movements, rapid scales and flowing arpeggios were fused into expressive, meaningful phrases that integrated perfectly into Beethoven’s unique sense of the dramatic. In Warren’s hands, the simplicity and charm of the second movement was enhanced with his impressive ability to bring out the varied moods and characters of the harmonic changes while the leading familiar melody never lost any of its strength and appeal.

Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’ was played with such skilled fluency that one could easily imagine the moonlight’s reflective play. Rippling runs and sweeping open chords contrasted well with the subtle quiet moments that caught the breath as though suspended for one precious moment in time immemorial.

Warren is a born virtuoso. His technical superiority and his innate empathy with the nature of the virtuosic pianists of previous times made the works by Liszt, Chopin and Gershwin ideal for him and for the audience. Liszt’s ‘Un Sospiro’ (‘The Sigh’) exuded romanticism with its strong, lyrical themes. His Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 was gorgeously gutsy with whirling gymnastics and cheeky interpolations.

After interval Grieg’s ‘Wedding Day at Troldhaugen’ provided moments of joyful respite and tenderness. Then we were taken into the dark world of Russian intensity with a powerful driving bass and moments of soft sudden lightness infused with a sense of foreboding.

A foray into the world of opera followed with Liszt’s ‘Rigoletto Paraphrase’ and Bizet-Horowitzs’ ‘Carmen Fantasy’.  In these the voices and characters of the participants were clearly defined by Warren’s phenomenal three dimensional effects.

One of the most effective performances of the evening was undoubtedly ‘Fantasy Imrpompty Op 66’ by Chopin. Warren met the challenging technical demands with ease while at the same time he brought out every romantic nuance with meaningful pauses and gentleness in the strong heart-tugging themes.

Chopin’s ‘Polonaise in A flat Op 53’ was manfully entertaining and as the strong chords filled the cathedral vaults we were reminded that we were made aware of a pianist and composer of considerable stature.

The evening ended appropriately with the amazing ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by Gershwin. Warren played an arrangement specifically for piano by Gershwin. Warren was at ease with the complicated syncopated rhythms, the virtuosic interplay and the playful episodes that were soon engulfed in what Warren and Gershwin possessed – a phenomenal sense of joyful abandonment and the thrill of captivating an audience with a display of unbridled showmanship worthy of the highest praise.

Rosemary Westwell