We are a community of classical music lovers, both performers and listeners.
Our series of informal musical evenings features artists drawn from our membership, and runs from September to June. The repertoire ranges from early music right up to the present day, combining the familiar with items less often performed.
Except where indicated, all of our concerts are at Brighton Unitarian Church, New Road, Brighton BN1 1UF, on Saturdays at 7.30 pm.
Annual membership is £25, and includes free admission for the year.
Admission for non-members is £5.
|24th March, 2018|
|Chopin: Polonnaise Fantasie|
|Pergolesi: Stabat Mater (extracts)|
|Jean-Pierre Brzechwa, Timi Mohai|
|Bellini Songs: La farfaletta; Vanne, o rosa|
|Georgie Zeitlyn, John Bruzon|
|Clarinet and Piano items|
|Evelyn Harrison, Rosemary Kemp|
|28th April, 2018|
|Chaminade: Flute Concertino|
|Karen Rash (flute), Nicola Grunberg (piano)|
|Songs by Handel and Purcell|
|Pamela Cross (mezzo-soprano)|
|Works by women composers including Clara Schumann and Amy Beach|
|Cynthia Eraut (violin), Nicola Grunberg (piano)|
|Works by Mozart, Spohr and Bliss|
|Jane Plessner (clarinet), Sue Mileham (soprano), Nicola Grunberg (piano)|
|Followed by the AGM|
|16th June, 2018|
|Bach: Concerto in D minor BWV 1043|
|Alina Kausanskaia (violin), Polina Loubnina (flute), Zhanna Kemp (piano)|
|Brahms: 2 Songs with Viola Op 91|
Bridge: 3 Songs with Viola
|Angela Goodall (mezzo-soprano), Beatrice Sales (viola), Joe Ward (piano)|
|Russian classical and folk songs|
|Daria Robertson (soprano), Zhanna Kemp (piano)|
Review: SMC 9th September 2017, BUC
The inaugural Sussex Musicians concert opened and ended with spectacular strength, and entertained all through.
Bax’s 1921 Viola Sonata is one of the greatest written for this combination. The finest is one from 1919, Rebecca Clarke’s, and Britten’s Lachrimaye from 1950 is the other best known. Add to that Shostakovich’s 1975 valediction (it’s striking how many composers end their lives writing or orchestrating viola works: Bartok and Britten too), with the best two or three of Hindemith’s and you have the core repertoire.
Oddly, this is the only work of that list inspired by Lionel Tertis, and Bax wrote a Concerto (called Fantasy) fro him in 1919, a Legend in 1929, which we heard a couple of years ago from this team; and a Second Sonata from 1934 got turned into his masterly Sixth Symphony. Perhaps looking at the oddity of the first two movements there, someone might steal it back?
The Bax has enormous power and like the Clarke encloses a scherzo in the middle, a format Walton later followed in his concertos.
Beatrice Sales opened out more and more in her playing, both singing and gritty where required. Kevin Allen powered support through Bax’s tricky piano part, written fro himself, someone who could sight-read anything. The opening rises in broken Celtic-sounding reminiscence but is a world away from Bax’s Irish adoption. It’s angular, modern and rises on tremendous perorations, speeding to Allegro then fading in a speaking tone of infinite regret. The diablerie of the Scherzo is strutting, angry, ferociously questing with a plangent middle trio section. The finale’s of course return: Molto lento. This too is shot through with sudden bursts and only settles resignedly. Sales and Allen know what they’re about as a duo, and brought this aching, angular masterwork of beauty, humour and desolation.
Sue Mileham with her inimitable wit and entertaining brio was able to break the spell after a brief pause with Karen Rash on flute and Nicola Grunberg on piano. Its an enticing combination. Arne’s The morning is a twittering confection, full of trills and tessituras, everyone reaching for a lark rise to top notes.
Saint-Saens’ ‘Une flute invisible’ similarly delights in the flute, as this composer always does, Rash weaving a proto-impressionistic haze around Mileham’s voice.
Henry Bishop’s ‘Lo! Here the Gentle Lark’ also weaves in larks, using Shakespeare’s ords as Mileham too points out is rather manically rising. These are rare works, rarely performed. Mileham’s often known for entertaining and she does that here, but in the music she charts unfamiliar territory for herself and most listeners.
Finally John Bruzon rendered us first a transcription by Alfred Cortot: it’s the second movement of Brandenburg Fifth Concerto in F minor. A remarkable sustained meditation in Bruzon’s hands, and retaining a cantilena feel as it sings suspended.
Bruzon’s virtuosity emerged wholly in the service of Liszt, his 1849 ‘Funérailles’ an extraordinary hybrid between a march and lament commemorating friends killed in the 1848 Hungarian uprising against the Hapsburgs. The tread of simple chords across the keyboard concatenates gradually into a frenzy, a protest, and a sad and angry consolation as the late great poet Geoffrey Hill put it. Bruzon gave an electrifying performance, terracing the gradual sonic wedge as it swayed across the keyboard, singing tone raised with the tempo, into an antiphonal carillon of rage. Muriel Hart, who’s been attending Sussex Musicians since 1941, said she couldn’t recall a finer piano performance in the last few years anywhere. I’m not sure I can either.