Saturday, 25 March 2017

Trombone awsomeness: Peter Moore at Leeds University

A real lunchtime treat a few weeks back -the ever increasing chaos of my life at the moment means sadly I have only now found the time to write! Taking an hour out of the whirlwind I went to see Peter Moore, with pianist Robert Thompson, play one of Leeds University School of Music's Lunchtime Concerts. What an hour! 

Peter Moore won BBC Young Musician in 2008; since the he has gone from strength to strength including nomination as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and as a Young Classical Artists Trust musician.

For the lunchtime recital, the programme was:
James Maynard - new work (premiere 30th January 2017 at Wigmore Hall)
Manuel de Falla - 7 Canciones populares Españolas
Reynaldo Hahn - A Cloris
Henri Duparc - La Vie antérieure
Eric Ewazen - Sonata for trombone and piano (1993) 

Everything was fantastic. Throughout, the sheer range of textures and emotions that Peter pulled out of the trombone was amazing; from a dreamy softness in the Maynard work to the third of the de Falla Canciones - all super. The range of works showcased Romantic, contemporary and jazz-tinged styles. Even a bit of Springsteen - the first movement of the Sonata by Ewazen contained ideas which in my ears related to some of the harmonies and timbres of a song like Jungleland.
Peter is on social media too - Facebook and Twitter. Future concerts highly recommended!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

múm: People on Sunday

After purchasing tickets for Lubomyr Melynck, I saw this performance and thought - yep, that sounds good! People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) is a German silent film from 1930, filmed in summer 1929. A portrayal of daily life in Berlin at the time and the desire of workers to enjoy their leisure time! múm are an experimental group from Iceland. Think indie/electronic/ambient and very enjoyable. 

The combination - a highly enjoyable, informative, funny, relaxing evening. I hadn't seen Menschen am Sonntag before and it was interesting to watch - bits of Berlin that I recognise, beer drunk from big goblets (think oversized wine glasses), the feel of warm sunshine and the breeze off the lake. Great! As was the social commentary - including how modern the lifestyles of the characters were (or maybe, how much continuity there is between the late 1920s and today). The live improvised score from múm was very in keeping with the film - both matching the sunny weather and the scenes/emotions played out.


February finale - Aurora Ensemble

The last day of February and (yet) another concert - ending the month on a high! The 28th February saw a concert by the Aurora Ensemble at Skipton Town Hall as the penultimate concert in the Skipton Music season. One of the top wind quintets in the UK, the Aurora Ensemble performed a varied and classy programme.

The pieces performed were all Classical or early 20th Century - with the exception of the Quintet by Klughardt, which is a rare Romantic piece for this set of instruments. I did find this piece hard, or at least harder than the rest - though the serenade and scherzo sections were very good. Piece of the evening went to Malcolm Arnold's Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet Op. 37 - 6 brief movements but encompassing a wide range of styles and emotions. The rest of the programme - all very enjoyable - included Zemlinsky, Danzi and Briccaldi. The Ensemble indeed live up to their billing - a very elegant performance!

February highs - Lubomyr Melynck at Opera North

Courtesy of Erased Tapes, Lubomyr Melynck was already on my radar so his concert at Leeds' Howard Assembly Rooms on 24th February was an easy choice. The Hungarian/Canadian pianist describes his style as 'continuous music' and treated the audience to a witty monologue before his performance. I will leave Lubomyr to describe continuous music himself - see his website.  The fastest pianist in the world is also a strong proponent of acoustic listening and was delighted that the concert could be performed acoustically (no amplification) due to the acoustics of the Howard Assembly Room.

The performance was of 4 pieces of which special mention goes to Butterfly - definitely my favourite. The piece exists in solo piano and 2 piano versions, and in different recorded versions (excellent CD of this piece purchased at the show). So full of hope and beauty. The final piece performed was Windmills, which is written for 2 pianos. Lubomyr had recorded one part earlier that afternoon on the same piano to then play the other part live in concert. This was the only time where there was a pre-record/amplification. Absolutely superb in parts, but some bits of Windmills I did find a bit harsh.

Experiencing the evening's performance was like a river of emotions - lots of hope and beauty (Lubomyr is big on experiencing beauty). Fantastic! Some of Lubomyr's music is on labels, some self released - see his website and bandcamp page for more; his music is also on Spotify and YouTube.

The support act was also fantastic. Young cellist Tim Smedley performed a half hour set of Jean Langlais, John Tavener and Philip Glass. I loved Threnos by Tavener - sparse but in no way austere; very cleansing. The opener, Ligne by Langlais, was fascinating. 

Earlier in the day I went to the Leeds University lunchtime concert of clarinet trio pieces. An excellent performance and I really enjoyed the Robert Muczynski Fantasy Trio Op. 26.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

New Year music: Anna Tsybuleva in Skipton (and a postscript for Alina Ibragimova)

January brought 'piano night' to Skipton for the piano recital event of this year's Skipton Music season. Following on from her win at the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition, Anna Tsybuleva has received several concert invites including here in Skipton. After her performance in Hebden Bridge last spring, I was looking forward to this concert. Whereas the Hebden Bridge programme was more 'traditional' - Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt - the programme for the 24th January recital in Skipton was more varied (more of her own favourites, perhaps?): CPE Bach Fantasy in F sharp minor H.300; Schumann Symphonic Etudes Op. 13; Medtner Sonata in G minor Op. 22; a selection from da Játékok by György Kurtág; and four Preludes plus L'Isle Joyeuse of Debussy. 

Anna's demeanour throughout was of unfussy, confident elegance. The Fantasy started out in contemplative mode (quite apt for a work night concert!?) with the expression following almost acting as a starter for Schumann. In the Symphonic Etudes, very well received by the audience, I enjoyed the theme and variations emotional journey  - with plenty of dynamic

Perhaps the hardest piece to comprehend was the Medtner Sonata. Not a piece I am familiar with and here maybe the control slipped - whilst there were sections of the one-movement piece that were superb soundscapes, I struggled to grasp the whole. The Kurtág pieces were fantastic - especially Les Adieux and Doina - powerfully simple and unnerving; and the Debussy selection was a sure crowd pleaser to finish.
Throughout the concert, Anna's control was both extremely admirable, yet perhaps a tad limiting. The evening was more than enjoyable and plenty to think on - but having seen her perform twice, it seems that Anna is quite guarded in her interactions with her audience - plenty of smiles but no conversations outside of the piano. Maybe a little more looseness would assist in transmitting her musical message.

Having written this I realised I had completely missed writing about Alina Ibragimova's December recital! Sorry Alina! It was a really exuberant performance, Bach and Ysaÿe. The Bach first half really good The Ysaÿe Sonatas were sometimes quite dense - namely, Kreisler Sonata - but the Aurora movement from Sonata No. 5 (Op. 27 No 5) was awesome.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

November Bonanzas 3 and 4: Sarah Fox; Peter Martens.

Third night in a row, this time back in Skipton for the next Skipton Music concert. The November concert was a song evening, featuring Sarah Fox accompanied by Alexander Taylor. 

Normally I am not a big fan of opera and not always of classical song; but season ticket = no excuse! However it was a very enjoyable evening. Sarah programmed songs by Schubert, Richard Strauss, Duparc, Canteloube, Britten and ended with a selection of Cole Porter and Gershwin songs. The songs by Henri Duparc were super and had great piano parts too; and the selection from Songs of the Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube were great fun. 

A few days' rest for the ears before another Leeds University lunchtime concert. This time the performer was South African cellist Peter Martens, accompanied by Richard Casey. The standout piece from this concert was the Sonata for Cello and Piano (2010) by South African composer Peter Klatzow. Peter Martens introduced the work, explaining that Klatzow is one of South Africa's most well known contemporary composers. The piece was in 4 movements with a dose of asymetric meters. Very listenable (recommended!) and in particular I enjoyed the 'andante tranquillo' and the 'vivace'. The 'vivace' incorporated a call-and-response dialogue found in many African genres - this neatly dovetailed with the book I am currently reading (which is also recommended): The Other Classical Musics contains a chapter about the West African tradition of Mande jaliyaa. 

November Bonanza 2: Live at Wigmore Hall - Cuarteto Quiroga and Javier Perianes

With Sara Watkins still playing through my mind, on Monday 14th November I headed to Wigmore Hall in London. A definite treat for me  - my first visit to this legendary venue for one of the Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts. Nice place! Though the balcony seating is rather snug.

After October and the Sacconi Quartet, two string quartets in as many months courtesy of Cuarteto Quiroga. They were joined by pianist Javier Perianes for a programme of Granados and Brahms. All musicians of a very high calibre from the programme notes. 

First up was Granados' Piano Quintet in G minor Op 49. I enjoy playing some of Granados' solo piano pieces but had not heard this piece before. All very exciting! The Quintet is a relatively early piece and reaches beyond a 'Spanish' sound, in particular in the first movement 'allegro. The second movement was pure poetry  - piece and the performance by the 5 musicians. In a less-is-more vein, the movement has a simple melody and sparse harmonies with a nod to Spain's Moorish past. This movement clearly captivated the whole audience - at least judging by the fit of coughing at the end! The 'molto presto' in the final movement incorporated a more Hungarian dance feel - very exuberant!

Cuarteto Quiroga and Javier Perianes have recorded the Granados Quintet - judging by the Wigmore Hall performance this will be going on my shopping list! The recording information is available at the Quiroga's website

After this amazing piece, to Brahms. I have a somewhat love/hate relationship to Brahms and whilst I have heard and enjoyed the Piano Quintet Op. 34 before, this time it wasn't communicating to me. Nothing to do with the performance - throughout both pieces the level of musicianship was fantastic - often lean and clean. However this time I found the Brahms very dense.  

As I write, the concert is still available on the Radio 3 website.