What fantastic playing by Manchester Collective last night. These were musicians of the highest
calibre, playing extraordinary music with the utmost skill and musicianship. They captured the
ethereal beauty of Ades’ string quartet, often using extended techniques (such as wide use of
harmonics, or playing very close to the bridge), pushing the sound capabilities of their instruments to the farthest limits. I don’t know about everyone else, but I was very glad of the short exploration of Thomas Ades’ quartet before the main performance. “Spectral”, “kaleidoscope”, “decay” and “disintegration” were words used to describe the music. And if you haven’t already listened again to Jorg Widmann’s 180 Beats per Second, it’s worth it to re-live the experience. Back on more familiar ground with Brahms’ sextet, I just sat back and enjoyed. It was gorgeous. here to edit.
Well – what a wonderful way to start our very special 75th Anniversary Season! It’s always a real joy to hear the Royal Northern Sinfonia in Richmond and last night was no exception. The intensity and depth of string sound in Bruch’s rarely heard Octet was truly amazing. Do orchestral players bring something different to chamber music when compared to those who only ever play in smaller groups, I wonder? A point for debate. The second piece by Grace Evangeline Mason was a wonderful contrast with a real lightness and delicacy of sound that portrayed the poetry behind it so convincingly. The second half was taken up by the piece that most people, perhaps, think of in terms of octets – the Schubert Octet. It’s a monumental work and the players did it full justice, clearly showing their own enjoyment of the piece.
Photos below, credit Jane Morris Abson
Last night Maggie Cole and Kati Debretzeni created a beautifully balanced and varied programme around their two instruments, fortepiano and violin.
Some hightlights of the evening: Haydn's E minor sonata for keyboard, composed when the fortepiano was newly invented. You could hear Haydn exploring the ability to play loudly or softly, which of course isn't possible in the same way on the harpsichord.
Khandoshkin's Sonata for solo violin was fascinating as a piece of social as well as musical history with its blend of Ukrainian/Cossack folk with Baroque and Classical elements.
Image by Viktor Erik Emmanuel, via Piatti Quartet website
Last night’s concert by the Piatti String Quartet presented a very well chosen programme of music from the early 19th to early 21st centuries, from Beethoven to Mark Anthony Turnage, via Dvorak.
Sensibly the quartet chose to start their programme with the Turnage ( while our ears were still open for the degustation of a new hors d’oeuvre ) a composer whose music they are very familiar with, having recorded all his quartets, and his 4th Quartet shows how skilled he is writing for a medium which has so many illustrious precedents. Of course unfamiliar music like this really needs repeated hearings to grasp its essence, but by turns wistful, lyrical and dramatic, the quartet introduced us to it with sensitivity as well as aplomb. Whether it will become a classic? Who knows, but don’t forget the protesters at the premiere of the Right of Spring!
Having recovered from the “shock of the new” ( not really !) they rolled out Dvorak ( the American Quartet) in all his familiar raiment, glorious melodic writing, in which quartet players revel, being able to indulge such affectionate music with warmth of sound and that curiously Slavonic wistfulness of which Dvorak was a master. Who doesn’t love Dvorak’s chamber music? The Piattis ticked all the boxes, with Jessie Ann Richardson’ glorious cello solos a particular joy - but I would say that - she is an ex pupil of mine!
Finally the master himself, Ludwig, and again the first movement of Op 59 No 1 kicking off with the memorable cello solo that gets the ball rolling in this monumental work. How extraordinary it is that, in spite of the evolution of classical music in the 200 or so years since this was written, this music still sits at the apex of string quartet writing, The Piattis revelled in the grandeur, nobility, tenderness and energy of this music, bringing their finest playing of the evening to a climax. The meal was brought to a most satisfactory conclusion, satisfying all appetites, and leaving us in no doubt that the experience of hearing a live quartet such as the Piattis, playing such glorious masterpieces, is, even in this age of multiple exposure to recorded music, not to be missed.
Review by Moray Welsh: cellist & painter
Annette spent her childhood in Richmond. Since then, she has lived in various UK locations, Kuwait and Turkey, before returning. She was kept busy bringing up 4 children, volunteering in various local organisations and working in careers advice.
She loves walking, travel, theatre, attempting photography and gardening, watching rugby and football. Musically, she displays little talent – being told to mime rather than sing, but enjoys live music. She loves opera – enjoying live events at the Station or Opera North. Her musical tastes range from Mozart, Beethoven to jazz – Bessie Smith and Courtney Pine. She loves listening to Nina Simone and Leonard Cohen – seeing him perform twice live.
Naomi worked in publishing and taught the cello in York before moving to Swaledale. She enjoys playing in orchestras and small ensembles, especially continuo. Other favourite things include Bach, ski-touring, hillwalking and wildlife gardening. She hopes her two new ponds will help the local toad population.
The repertoire for piano four hands (aka piano duets) is neither very well known nor often performed in public, so I was intrigued. Apart from playing piano duets with piano teachers, I did not know the repertoire, and so was delighted to discover such variety and quality last night. Not only this, but piano four hands is fun to watch! Schubert kept the four hands in their places on the upper and lower halves of the keyboard, but Mendelssohn had hands crossing and as Alison Gill pointed out, “the choregraphy gets interesting”. The Hungarian dances by Liszt were fabulously evocative and fun, and then the highlight of the evening came in the second half – Stravinsky’s own arrangement of Petrushka for piano four hands. I am a newcomer to Richmondshire and Richmondshire Concerts and have to say I was impressed. I will be back!
Photo: Jane Morris Abson
It seems only yesterday that it was impossible to mention the Sacconi Quartet without the word "young". They still look young, of course, and they still are young compared to many quartets of a similarly high standard. But let's remember that they came together over 20 years ago. In that time they have bonded and matured impressively, and suddenly it doesn't seem wrong to match them with "magisterial".
A magisterial performance is what they gave us last night. One of Mozart's six 'Haydn' quartets led into the gloomy and mysterious splendour of Schubert's 'Rosamunde' quartet. Ravel's (only) string quartet filled the whole second half of the concert, its pizzicato second movement a reminder of how radical a work can be while still being utterly familiar. The Sacconis paced it beautifully.
Three big, emotionally demanding pieces, yet the players still had energy to play a lovely Danish wedding song as an encore. Not so very old, then!
There was a good-sized and very appreciative audience last night in the Influence Church, when the a cappella group Apollo5 launched our unusual 2021 season. Unusual, because we don't often feature vocal groups, because we didn't have a 2020 season, and because it's a seven-concert season.
It was a lovely performance: the singers were clearly delighted to be back in front of a live audience, and the audience shared their delight. Were the singers rusty? Not at all: as their programme notes explained, the long quiet months in which they recorded their latest album, Where All Roses Go, gave them a wonderfully creative focus. The quality of last night's singing stayed high, all the way from William Byrd in the 1570s to the gorgeous encore (1983), and then they were off - night train back to London, and performing today at Mont St. Michel in Normandy.
No CDs were on sale - there was no time. But you can order a CD or download of Where All Roses Go by clicking the image above of the disc's cover.
BBC Radio 3's Petroc Trelawny has been travelling slowly down Wensleydale over the last few days, enjoying the wonderful weather and countryside and sharing them on his Breakfast programme. If you've not heard him, you can catch up on BBC Sounds for about a month. Well worth listening to (and not just for the music - the birdsong and the sheep come across very well too).
If you have been listening, you may have caught Jake Heringman and Susanna Pell being interviewed on 13 July, and performing on lute and viol in a field of sheep near Jervaulx Abbey. Jake and Zan (resident in Richmond, and previously trustees of this society) spoke glowingly of the rich musical life of the area, and particularly of the Richmondshire Concerts and the Swaledale Festival. Thanks, both, and we hope you got a breakfast out of it!
Here's a link; you'll hear Zan and Jake at the 1 hour 47 minute mark.
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