CDs October 2021

J S BACH – ECHO: WORKS FOR HARPSICHORD
ALESSANDRA ARTIFONI, harpsichord
DYNAMIC CDS7922 65’46

Well executed performances by Alessandra Artifoni of four longer keyboard works make up this CD. There is a good variety of forms here but the larger structures make for perhaps a more immersive experience than when there are a number of shorter tracks. Opening with the Concerto Italiano, BWV 971 and followed by Fantasia & Fugue, BWV 904 the programme also includes French Overture, BWV 831 and Sonata in D minor, BWV 964.

SEE, SEE, THE WORD IS INCARNATE –
CHORAL & INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC BY GIBBONS, TOMKINS & WEELKES
THE CHAPEL CHOIR OF TRINITY HALL, CAMBRIDGE
NEWE VIALLES
ORPHEUS BRITANNICUS VOCAL CONSORT
ANDREW ARTHUR, director
RESONUS RES10295 70’51

This is a very enjoyable programme combining voices and instruments in works by Jacobean composers who contributed so much to the English church music repertoire. The various musical forces drawn together for this production breathe new life into this music from centuries past in the fine performances collected here.

SCHUBERT PIANO TRIOS VOLUME 1
GOULD PIANO TRIO
RESONUS RES10289 61’05

In the first of a new series we have here Piano Trio No 1 in B flat major together with the Piano Trio in E flat major ‘Notturno’. Sandwiched between them is a 19th century arrangement for piano trio of Valses Nobles, Op 77.

ELISABETH LUTYENS PIANO WORKS VOLUME 1
MARTIN JONES, piano
RESONUS RES10291 67’39

This is a very welcome release, making the music of this very neglected British composer available to a wide audience. Several of these are premiere recordings, all of the music being from Lutyens’ later period. Martin Jones brings this very individual music to life in convincing and vibrant performances. Includes Seven Preludes, Five Impromptus, Plenum I and The Great Seas. I look forward to volume 2.

SOLITUDE – PIANO WORKS BY FLORENT SCHMITT
BILJANA URBAN, piano
GRAND PIANO GP850 71’00

This CD also highlights piano music from another highly individual composer. Dating from the very late 19th and early 20th centuries these works are very enjoyable and offer variety of form and style. These are fine performances and most of the recordings are premieres.
Some of the pieces carry intriguing titles, too: Crepuscles, Pupazzi, Ballade de la Neige.

ALFRED SCHNITTKE – FILM MUSIC VOL 5
RUNDFUNKCHOR BERLIN
RUNDFUNK-SINFONIEORCHESTER BERLIN, director FRANK STROBEL
CAPRICCIO C5350 53’38

I really enjoyed this disc. Showing something of the diverse influences Schittke drew upon to create music that is evocative and interesting. Light 1920s jazz stylings sit alongside minimalist orchestral, lively tuned percussion textures and meandering wordless choral in this selection from three soundtracks. Tagesterne (The Stars of the Day), Der Liebling des Publikums (The Favourite) and Vater Sergius (Father Sergius) are the featured films.

20th CENTURY FOXTROTS – 3- CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
GOTTLIEB WALLISCH, piano
GRAND PIANO GP854 79’49

This is another super release. The third volume in a survey of “jazzy piano dances” contains mostly premiere recordings of music that is largely unknown and rhythmically infectious in these great performances. Most of the music dates from the ‘20s and ‘30s with a couple of later items and one earlier. I am sure this would have large appeal to anyone who enjoys this style of music and to pianists looking for unusual repertoire. I must now find the other volumes in the series.

KERMES
JULIA DEN BOWER, piano
NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS FCR311 63’05

Contemporary music around the theme of sources of colour are found here in brilliant performances by a pianist who is obviously at home with contemporary repertoire. The album takes its name from insects which are the source of the brilliant red pigment used to create vermillion. There are four pieces, each by a contemporary experimental female composer – Linda Catlin Smith’s The Underfolding, Crimson by Rebecca Saunders, Reminiscence by Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Giulia Lorusso’s Deserts. An enjoyable disc of new music for immersive listening.

SP

Ministry of Sound Bring The Biggest Party On The South Coast To Sussex Next Month

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Ministry of Sound invites you to relive the greatest dance music of all time with a new live concert at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Friday 26th November 2021. Bringing the magic of timeless club hits, this show combines high-energy anthems with a full orchestra to create the ultimate party experience.

This breathtaking event is Ministry of Sound’s first ever fully produced classical music show. Alongside the biggest dance tracks reimagined by The London Concert Orchestra, there will be special guest live vocalists and a set from DJ Danny Rampling – one of the original founders of the UK’s rave / club scene.

All this against a backdrop of large screen visuals, lights, lasers, special effects and a live-scored documentary featuring Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Brandon Block and key Ministry of Sound players including Justin Berkmann and Lohan Presencer.

The show spans chart-topping albums with huge tracks getting a never heard before classical remake. Expect to hear iconic club favourites such as Faithless’Insomnia, The Chemical Brothers’ Hey Boy Hey Girl, Darude’s Sandstorm, Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now, Moloko’s Sing It Back and so many more.

Edward Gilroy, Managing Partner of Coastal Events said “It’s been a tough time for most people over the past two years, especially those of us who are passionate about dancing to live music; that’s why we are so excited to be bringing this massive show to the south coast. The De La Warr Pavilion is a stunning venue and I can’t wait for the people of Sussex to get their raving buddies together for this awe-inspiring event; clubland classics meets classical in this high-energy concert that is going to be endless fun!

Tickets for Ministry of Sound Classical at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill can be purchased online via dlwp.com and coastalevents.co.uk.

Oxford Lieder 2021 Into the Woods

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Kitty Whately
Neil Balfour (emerging artist)
Anna Tilbrook (piano)

This imaginatively programmed all-American concert moved from Copland and Barber to an entertaining selection of Sondheim moments including several from the titular Into the Woods. Along the way we also got Rogers and Hammerstein, songs by William Bolcom and in the crassly obvious token woman position, one by Margaret Bonds.

Whately, now at the top of her game can do pretty much anything. There was real tenderness, for example, in her rendering of Barber’s Nocturne and Sleep Now – unfussy performances in which she simply stood, sang and let the music do the work. Half an hour later she was bobbing up and down behind the piano for a hilarious series of mini cameos in wigs and furs during Buddy’s Blues.

Billed as an “emerging artist”, Neil Balfour worked adeptly with Whately in several duets as well as delivering a warm account of O What a Beautiful Morning and a very accomplished one of William Bolcom’s Black Max – a compelling minor key swing number which Balfour really made his own.

There was lots of chemistry between the two of them in Sunday in the Park with George, which like most Sondheim numbers is quite long and needs careful sustaining and balance. Whately really nailed the model’s frustration and Balfour had Seurat’s irascibilty perfectly. I admired the way Balfour and Whately did Happiness too – with two sets of thoughts going in different directions and then coalescing musically.

The best moments of the evening though were Whately singing Mr Snow from Carousel – all coy, pragmatic love – and her well judged rendering of Could I Leave You in which she makes it clear that yes she could and she isn’t going to miss those “dinners for ten – elderly men – from the UN”.

All this was greatly enhanced by Anna Tillbrook’s sensitive work on piano. And some of the piano writing here is complex and subtle – or witty. I loved the “knitting needle music” in Black Max, for instance.

Susan Elkin

Dichterliebe Oxford Lieder Festival 2021

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Schumann’s 1840 song cycle Poet’s Love, with its wealth of colour and mood across sixteen song settings of Heinrich Heine’s poems, is ideal for a lunchtime recital. And baritone Thomas Olemans makes a fine team with pianist Malcolm Martineau assisted by the latter’s highly skilful masked page turner/slider. These songs are definitely duets even down to the moving piano coda delivered with sensitivity at the end.

In places Olemans injects a quality of smiling wondrousness into his high notes making the audience feel the gentle personal drama. Elsewhere we got gravitas and fortissimo in the more declamatory numbers as well as pleasing lightness in the faster songs and anger where required. He’s certainly a versatile singer and actor.

This 60 minute concert opened with songs by Niels Gade, a Danish friend of the Schumanns and several of Clara’s songs. I especially liked Olemans’s warm passionate delivery of Der Mond Still Gegangen and the way he and Martineau segued from Clara’s Die Stille Lotosblume into Dichterliebe.

The setting was, incidentally, both attractive and apt with the two performers on a platform in front of St John the Evangelist Church’s carved tracery rood screen so that natural light and the green Trinity altar hangings providing a very pleasing backdrop.

I don’t care for digital concerts in general but it wasn’t logistically possible to get to Oxford this week. It is, however, a real treat to see on screen the live audience there in the church – a great improvement on the recent past and a sensible idea to offer both options.

Susan Elkin

Oxford Lieder Concert Series, Fairlight Hall 7th November 2021

Oxford Lieder Concert Series return to Fairlight Hall, Hastings this November with a concert from James Atkinson Baritone and Sholto Kynoch (piano).

Sunday 7 November 11am

Tickets £15 include coffee and cake and can be booked from fairlighthall.co.uk

Fairlight Hall concert series, in collaboration with Oxford Lieder, resumes with the outstanding young baritone James Atkinson. At Oxford Lieder’s online Spring Weekend in February 2021, The Times wrote of James: ‘This young man is still in his final year at the Royal College of Music, but so confident was his stage manner and command of Schubert’s music… that he proclaimed himself a natural lieder singer and linguist, savouring the words almost as idiomatically as a native German speaker, his lovely lyric baritone responding to the words with invigorating warmth. As a recitalist he’s clearly a name to watch.’

Bloom Britannia – St Mary in the Castle Hastings

St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings

Friday 22nd October 7.30PM
Saturday 23rd October 7.30PM
Sunday 24th October 4PM 

Composer: ORLANDO GOUGH
Librettist: STEPHEN PLAICE
Director: POLLY GRAHAM
Artistic Director: JENNY MILLER
Conductor: CHRISTOPHER STARK
Assistant conductor: MARK AUSTIN

We invite you to experience our new ‘people’s opera’ BLOOM BRITANNIA, an affectionate, comic opera bringing together influences from folk, pop and jazz. An opera, but not as you know it!