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Concert reviews ~ 2015/2016 season

Saturday 17th October 2015

Alexander Soares

Review of concert by Alexander Soares - piano

Alexander Soares

Partita No.5 in G major BWV829 JS Bach 
Children's Corner Debussy 
Polonaise-Fantaisie Op.61 Chopin 
Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude Liszt 
Chorale et variations Dutilleux 

Amersham Concert Club opened its 49th season on Saturday 17th October with a recital by the brilliant young pianist Alexander Soares who won the first prize and Gold medal in the prestigious Royal Overseas League competition, earlier this year. The enthusiastic and receptive audience was treated to a performance of the highest virtuosity.

The evening began with an expert rendition of Bach's Partita no.5; according to Alexander, a work to challenge the grey cells. Children's Corner by Debussy followed. It is a most delightful and amusing musical description of nursery scenes and associations, ending with the popular, jazzy Golliwog's Cake Walk - No 'cake walk' to play it. The first half of the programme concluded with the emotionally biographical late work by Chopin, his Polonaise Fantasie.

The audience was captured by the intense atmosphere that Alexander created in his interpretation of Liszt's Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude. He gave a dramatic and very memorable performance; sounding in parts like two pianos with a melody and accompaniment in both hands.

The culminating work was a tour de force. Chorale and Variations was written by Dutilleux in 1946 for his pianist wife. Alexander introduced this piece as musical fireworks or "Debussy after too much coffee". His performance embraced the full range of interpretive skills ranging from arresting power to the utmost delicacy. It was quite clear, as Alexander admitted afterwards, that he feels a special affinity for the French 20C composers.

Saturday 7th November 2015

The Prince Bishop Brass Quintet

Review of recital by Mike Walton, Derek Ruffell - trumpets,
Stuart Gray - trombone, Chris Senior - French horn
Stephen Boyd - tuba

The Prince Bishop Brass Quintet

 Fanfare 'La Peri' Dukas 
 Suite in D Jeremiah Clarke 
 Fugue in G Minor J S Bach 
 Fancies, Toyes and Dreames Farnaby 
 Adagio Barber 
 Pastime with Good Company Attributed Henry VIII 
 Santa Barbara Sonata Bram Tovey 
 Quintet Michael Kamen 
 3 Gershwin Pieces Gershwin 
 Northumbrian Songs Ray Chester 
 Four Episodes from West Side Story Bernstein 

A fanfare of brass opened Amersham Concert Club's second concert of the season held on Saturday 7th November. The Prince Bishop Brass Quintet arrived in great good humour, despite their long journey from the North-East of England, but pleased to be fêted with fireworks along the way.

From the outset the audience was ready to relax and be entertained by an eclectic programme of music adapted to this chamber brass ensemble. All the musicians have played brass since their youth. Their joint experience includes performing and conducting many of the well known bands in the North of England as well as time spent with opera & ballet companies and some of the country's leading orchestras. Together they make it look easy to produce a rich and balanced sound in the chamber concert environment.

The programme ranged from Bach's Fugue in G minor via traditional Elizabethan airs to include a challenging transcription of the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. It embraced a medley of traditional Northumbrian songs commissioned by the ensemble from big band leader Ray Chester and a short piece by Michael Kamen, better known for his wealth of film scores and avant-garde 1970's pop music. The more jazzy sounds of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Bernstein's West Side Story provided an upbeat finale to a thoroughly engaging concert.

Saturday 28th November 2015

Matthew Scott and Daniel King-Smith

Review of concert by Matthew Scott, clarinet, accompanied by Daniel King-Smith, piano

Matthew Scott and Daniel King-Smith

Sonatina for clarinet and piano Horowitz 
Piece en Forme de Habanera Ravel 
Sonata in F minor, Op.120 No.1 Brahms 
Premiere Rhapsodie Debussy 
Sonata for clarinet and piano Bax 
Fantasia da Concerto su motivi de 'La Traviata' Lovreglio 

An enthusiastic audience had braved a very stormy night and they were well rewarded.

The concert opened with a Sonatina by Joseph Horowitz, professor of music at the Royal College, London. The piece was pacey, with influences from jazz and other popular music. In it Matthew showed the full range of the clarinet, playing with some lovely tone colours. A work by Ravel followed. In the form of a Habanera, its marked Spanish rhythm was slow and sultry, making for a complete change of mood. To end the first half of their concert Matthew and Daniel performed a mature work by Brahms, the sonata in F minor. Unusually for its time, this piece gives equal prominence to the two instruments. By turns sombre and dramatic then song-like and melodic, the partnership between the two musicians was beautifully expressed.

Matthew demonstrated his technical skill in a very exciting set of pieces in the second half of the evening. The Premiere Rhapsody by Debussy , originally written for a clarinet competition, was brilliantly performed. A Sonata by Bax followed. Described as being the musical equivalent of an impressionist painting, the piano and clarinet wove together through light and dark passages, ending quietly.

The evening was brought to a close with the Fantasia da Concerto su motivi de 'La Traviata' by Lovreglio. This arrangement of the familiar themes of the opera is a tour de force. In it, Verdi's wonderful melodies are underpinned by a rich and dramatic accompaniment. The piece is technically challenging and both Matthew and Daniel gave a very exciting performance which thoroughly deserved the enthusiastic applause.
Matthew is supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Saturday 27th February 2016

Piatti String Quartet

Review of recital by Nathaniel Anderson-Frank, Michael Trainor ~ violins
David Wigram ~ viola, Jessie-Ann Richardson ~ cello
An Evening to Remember

Piatti String Quartet

 Quartet in F major Ravel 
 Langsamersatz Webern 
 String Quartet No.2 in A minor Op.51 No.2 Brahms 

The audience at Amersham Concert Club's recital last Saturday was treated to an evening of superb string playing by the prize-winning young Piatti Quartet. Nathaniel Anderson-Frank and Michael Trainor (violins), David Wigram (viola) and Jessie-Ann Richardson (cello) gave us a truly memorable evening.

The concert began with Ravel's Quartet in F major. Introducing the piece, David Wigram said that it had been written for a competition but had not been well-received. Fauré, to whom it was dedicated, thought it needed 'a lot of work'! But the Piatti's playing on Saturday held the audience spell-bound. The clarity and lightness of their playing had the audience holding its breath in the quiet passages. Webern's Langsammer Satz completed the first half and was a revelation to many of us, expecting something challenging and avant garde. This was a lovely, romantic piece and the Quartet brought out all the colour and depth in the short piece. The concert concluded with Brahms's Quartet No.2 in A minor and here the Piatti produced a wonderful range of sound with some superb playing.

Saturday 7th February 2015

The Rose Trio

Review of concert by Suzanne Thorn ~ Oboe, Rebecca Thorn ~ Clarinet, Tamsin Thorn ~ Bassoon

The Rose Trio

Divertimento No. 1 from K.439b ~ Mozart
Suite Pour Trio D'Anches ~ Alexandre Tansman
Pièces en Trio ~ Jacques Ibert
Variations on 'La ci darem la mano' from 'Don Giovanni' ~ Beethoven
Allegro from Grand Trio in C Op. 87 ~ Beethoven
Divertissement ~ Jean Françaix
Serenade ~ Ferenc Farkas
Walking the Dog ~ Gershwin

Amersham Concert Club ended a very successful and enjoyable season on 12th March with a lovely recital by the Rose Trio. The Thorne sisters (Suzie, oboe, Becky, clarinet and Tammy, bassoon) treated the audience to a delightful and wide-ranging programme of music for wind trio. The evening began with Mozart's Divertimento No.1 where it was hard, at times, to accept that just three instruments were playing such was the range of tone produced. Alexandre Tansman's Suite for Wind Trio was far less familiar to the audience but was beautifully played bringing out all the rhythms which Tansman, a friend of Stravinsky, made such use of.

The Trio played two pieces by Beethoven, one a set of variations on a tune from Mozart's Don Giovanni and the other part of his Grand Trio, explaining that Beethoven is thought to have composed these pieces whilst familiarising himself with the potential of wind instruments for his symphonies. The programme concluded with a lively performance of Gershwin's Walking the Dog originally intended for the 'walking the dog' sequence in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Shall We Dance?

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