Posts Tagged ‘Rachmaninov’

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@

Review of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s concert on 2nd March 2016 at Cambridge Corn Exchange.

March 3, 2016

review Cambridge concert Esther Yoo playing000 - credit Marco Borggreve website_0The Philharmonia Orchestra is undoubtedly one of the world’s finest orchestras and the depth of corporate knowledge and understanding this orchestra has developed over its 50 years of experience was amazing. The rich sounds, intuitive precision and expressive musicality these fine musicians engendered made the music come alive. They were inspired by a wonderful conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy, who had lost nothing of the energetic vivacity and artistic flair I witnessed when he performed as a concert pianist in Peterborough Cathedral over thirty years ago.

The concert also featured the renowned violin soloists, Esther Yoo, and her phenomenal technique and empathy for the inner soul of the music were breath-taking.

In addition, a young composer and a number of young players were introduced, as part of the orchestra’s education programme. Jay Richardon’s composition ‘Laulan’ (I sing) added spice to an already fascinating series of compositions.

The concert opened with Rachmaninov’s ‘The Rock’, and it was soon clear that the musicians were encouraged to luxuriate over the delicious sounds of this work under the influence of the conductor fellow Russian, Vladimir Askenazy. The emotional pull of grand sweeping episodes contrasted seamlessly and effectively with thinner lines that gave the composition its appeal.

Then Esther Yoo played the Violin Concerto in D minor op. 47 by Sibelius and the effect was electrifying. Esther’s stamina, intuition and amazing virtuosic technique made every phrase of this familiar concerto meaningful. The cohesive flow of rapid notes over all ranges of the violin, the depth of tone in the second movement and the pulsating impact of the marked rhythms of the final movement infused the work with rare vivacity.

Jay’s composition kept us in the realms of Finland and its magical qualities and the siren-like singing of the eerie sounds these performers produced under the guidance of this up and coming composer, brought wonderful images of stretches of Finnish lakes to mind. Also, the way in which slides were naturally incorporated in its haunting, sparse texture was most effective.

The final work of the programme was Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony no. 3 in A minor and this full and wholesome work incorporated only a little of Rachmaninov’s melancholic intervals that I had always associated with him. This work was packed with the goodie-goodie feel of Hollywood Americanism that conductor and orchestra revelled in wonderfully. Their expertise was able to juxtapose perfectly many delightful quirky Americanisms with sweeping heart-warming harmonies, occasional moments of complex tightly overlapping melodies and tremendous climaxes.

This was indeed a wonderful concert of the best there is in music.

The next event in Cambridge Classical Concert Series will be on Tuesday 26th April 2016 with Dame Evelyn Glennie in conversation with Libby Purves. Tickets from tel: (01223) 357851


Review of a piano recital by George Harliono presented by Chatteris Music Society at the Parish Church of St Peter and St. Paul, Chatteris on Saturday 1st September 2012.

September 11, 2012

Chatteris Music Society, spearheaded by Katherine Childs, struck a winner when they asked 11-year-old George Harliono to give a piano recital in the village church today.  The audience knew it would be a grand occasion as the church was packed with enthusiasts.

One would expect a young lad of that age who started playing the piano at the age of 7 to play ‘nicely’ but not necessarily in the mature manner someone of twice his age would. However, this young performer was no ordinary player. He presented a full challenging programme that demonstrated an highly effective technique and there were many moments of mature musical awareness that is normally only associated with the best of performers.

His opening item, Piano Sonata No 14 in c sharp minor (The Moonlight Sonata) by Beethoven, flowed beautifully in the first movement (Adagio Sostenuto), with many of the underlying melodic fragments clearly delineated.  He brought out the skittishness of Beethoven in the second movement (Allegretto) while his playing of the third movement (Presto Agitato) was at a magnificently energetic speed with much of Beethoven’s angst very much apparent.

By way of contrast, George then showed an impressive ability for cohesion in Estampes by Debussy: In the first movement, Pagodes, he shaped the phrases beautifully creating unmistakable images of grand Japanese pagodas. In the second movement, La soirée dans Grenade, a constant reference to Spanish rhythm and melodic flavour combined with his varied touch contrasted  combined well with the typical flowing delicacy of Debussy and prominent resounding thematic material, while in the third, Jardin sous la pluie, the atmosphere was again created wonderfully as his technique made the music flow exquisitely, creating fluid, watery textures.

His brother, Joshua Harliono (violin) then gave a delightful performance on the violin of the first of Four Romantic Pieces by Dvorak (Allegro Moderato)

After interval of tea and cakes, George played one of his favourite pieces, Rachmaninov’s Prelude no.12 in c sharp minor (op. 3 no2). There was no doubt that George has a phenomenal technique and this piece demonstrated this particularly well.

A mature approach and some particularly effective soft episodes in Schubert’s Four Impromptus D899 (Op. 90) ended the concert magnificently.  The first Impromptu in C minor (Allegro Molto Moderato) showed tremendous contrasting dynamic levels and in the second, E flat (Allegro) this amazingly talented pianist presented some astounding runs in the right hand. The third in G flat (Andante) brought out the mature musicianship of this young performer. The expression he created in the opening was spellbinding.  In the final, fourth Impromptu, in A flat (Allegretto) he managed some deliciously soft ripples in the right hand. He brought out the poignancy of contrasting episodes and swelling dynamics particularly well.

With an immediate stage presence, George confidently introduced the pieces, moved assuredly to sit at the grand piano and gave a recital of mammoth proportions for a performer of this age. It was perfectly understandable that he was given a standing ovation and there were people queuing for his autograph at the end. The demand for an encore was easily met and George gave a splendid performance of Glinka’s ‘The Lark’ to make this one of the most amazing performances I have seen recently.

Chatteris Music Society’s next event will be ‘An Evening of Music’ with Andrew Parnell (piano), Koren Parnell (clarinet) and Rebecca Duckworth (soprano) with music by Schubert, Gershwin, Finzi and Poulenc at Chatteris Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul tel: 01354 669104

Events next year include European Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (Youth Orchestra), Kings College Choral Scholars, Los Guitanos, and Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra (featuring a piano concerto).

For more information contact: 01354 693279

review Warren Mailley-Smith piano recital

February 16, 2010

A debonair pianist, candle light and champagne: what more could one ask? The Valentine’s Champagne Concert given by Warren Mailley-Smith in Ely Cathedral lived up to its expectations. With astounding dexterity, this sensational pianist wowed the audience with music that pulled at the heart strings. As candles flickered around him in the octagon, he performed astounding feats on the grand piano that kept the listeners spellbound.  

It was as if we were drawn back into the heady days of the popular pianists of a yester-year. The programme included pieces that displayed Warren’s phenomenal technique and his natural empathy with the greatest showmen of the Romantic era. It was as if Rachmaninov or Liszt had returned to the stage.

The opening Appassionata Sonata Op 57 in F minor was splendid. Beethoven’s impassioned outbreaks, his extreme contrasts and the flow of rolling broken chords never lost the thread of the deep-seated emotional of his style. Warren’s sensitivity and strength created amazing multi-dimensional fabrics. The main melodic themes were clearly and potently held, while underlying harmonies, pedal notes and trills were integrated seamlessly.  In the Presto, Warren played at break-neck speed with utter clarity and accuracy.

As expected, a favoured composer was Chopin, one of the most romantic composers of all. Reminiscences of Chopin’s piano concert no 1, in his Souvenirs de Paganini and his Ballade No 1, Op 23 in G minor were played to perfection, the cross rhythms, the highly demanding virtuosic flourishes and the heart rending sonorous melodies were beautifully expressed.

No evening of romantic music would be complete without Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata Op 27 in C sharp minor. Warren’s performance was spellbinding. His exact touch gave every note its correct weight. Warren’s fingers shaped the phrases beautifully and in the third movement, the Presto agitato, his fingers flew over the keys, with not a note missing and not a nuance forsaken.

In Liestraume no 3 by Liszt Warren made the unforgettable melodies sing, while accompanying material weaved seamlessly through the work, virtuosic flourishes and embellishments melting into the fabric.

Warren’s potent touch brought out every essence of the pain, power and anguish inthe haunting themes of Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G minor Op 23 no 1.

It was fortuitous that Warren’s own wedding anniversary fell on the day after the concert. His performance of Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen was a fitting and attractive late addition to the programme.

The concert was brought to a close with a glittering performance of Gershwin’s piano arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue.  With real showmanship, Warren entered into the spirit of the work with amazing technique and understanding. Jazzy rhythms and cheeky interpolations, exquisitely delicate episodes were well contrasted with moments of overwhelming flamboyance.

Warren’s encore , a delightful arrangement of Spanish origin, added to the variety of this wonderful evening.

One of his next performances includes homage to Chopin when his birthday on 1st March will be celebrated in a concert at high Wickham.