Sunday, 28 May 2017

Museuns at Night - Leeds and Aoife O'Donovan at Brudenell Social Club

My attempt at embroidery
Two weeks, two more great events. First up a Museums at Night event including music held on 19th May. The Leeds University Library Galleries hosted an event looking at the anniversary of the Russian Revolutions. A ticketed 18+ event, there was plenty of space and time to look at the various activities. 

Musically, members of the Leeds Festival Chorus performed 3 times, selections from Rachmaninov's Vespers. Spine tingling stuff and very effective use of the space in Parkinson Court. 

Members of stage@leeds performed dramatic readings from eyewitness accounts of the two Revolutions. This took place in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, where there is currently a special exhibition of items related to the Revolutions. Diary entries, photographs, personal belongings of British citizens resident in St Petersburg/Petrograd - all of which were referenced in the readings - the exhibition is a real eye opener and well worth a visit. Although the whole of the Treasures Gallery is worth multiple visits.  

In one corner of the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, there was a pop-up embroidery event - anyone could participate in creating an item, either based on artifacts on display or something else!

Aoife O'Donovan
On Thursday, 25th, we discovered Brudenell Social Club thanks to Aoife O'Donovan's current tour. A really good, cosy, friendly venue and meeting place. After having seen Aoife with the I'm With Her tour it was interesting to see her performing solo. The set comprised mostly songs from In the Magic Hour and a few covers, with a couple of older songs thrown in. A super event, with good solid support from Blair Dunlop


Monday, 8 May 2017

Lunchtime Harp: Hugh Webb at Leeds

Bright sunshine and another excellent lunchtime concert. This time the programme was a selection os solo harp pieces with Hugh Webb performing. Hugh was a charming presenter as well as performer, providing interesting information behind his programme of 20th century harp music (but then, according to Hugh, the concert harp is a 20th century instrument).

The programme started with the evocative En France by Marcel Tournier. Sounds of the sea - very nice anticipation of summer. Then came Benjamin Britten's Interlude from Ceremony of Carols - a clear sonic difference from Tournier, very simple and direct. Colin Matthews' Little Suite for Harp was possibly my favourite piece of the hour - 3 short movements (march, barcarole, toccata) with preludes in between - from sublime to angular. Similar to the Peter Moore lunchtime concert, the programme here demonstrated the wonderful range of the instrument.

Robert Keeley's Farid left me behind a little, but Hugh's own piece Tone, tone, semitone and some jazz flourishes to end an excellent concert. I floated back to work - thinking One day... one day... I would love to learn this instrument...

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Performance perspective: A Classical Interlude at Ribble Valley Jazz & Blues Festival, Clitheroe

The May Day weekend saw the annual Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues festival hit Clitheroe. An amazing lineup of musicians across 17 venues for the weekend. The festival is entirely volunteer run and they did an amazing job! This year, the festival organisers had a few branch-out events including A Classical Interlude - a morning of classical guitar and an afternoon of piano. 

Members of the Clitheroe Piano Meetup, myself included, were invited to perform at the Interlude concerts. They were held in Clitheroe Library - so far, so familiar as this is the venue for the regular piano group.  Multi instrumentalists John Hesketh and Ian Plested performed solo and duo guitar repertoire to a packed out room. 

For the piano slot, there were 5 performers: John Hesketh, Nick Mahon, Margaret Plested, yours truly and Richard Dinsmore. The repertoire - what a selection! Somehow independently of each other we'd ended up focusing on quite a few French composers. After a more 'classical' start from John and jazz from Nick, Margaret included Debussy's Arabesque No. 1 in her section, followed by me with Erik Satie (Gnossiennes 1-4) and Benjamin Godard (Au Matin), followed by more Debussy (Reverie) and Poulenc (Improvisation No. 13 and Toccata from Trois Pieces) by Richard. 

The room was pretty full and the audience very enthusiastic! Definitely helped with the nerves (although playing a familiar piano was another bonus). For me, I enjoy the Satie Gnossiennes so much that I was floating away on them whilst playing. Very nice. 

Big congratulations to all the performers. Same time next year??

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.