9th September, 2017Arnold Bax: Sonata for viola and pianoBeatrice Sales, Kevin AllenPlay
9th September, 2017Songs by Arne, Saint-Saens and Henry BishopSue Mileham, Karen Rash with Nicola Grunberg (piano)Play
9th September, 2017Bach/Cortot: arrangement of the Arioso from the F Minor Keyboard Concerto. Liszt: FuneraillesJohn BruzonPlay
17th June, 2017Scarlatti: Arietta L.423 Mozart: Adagio in B minor K 540 Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV 543 (arr Liszt)John Bruzon (piano)Play
17th June, 2017Mozart: Un moto gioia mi sento K579 Bellini: Tre arietteBeatrice Monaco (soprano), John Bruzon (piano)Play
17th June, 2017Georges Hue: FantaisieKaren Rash (flute), John Bruzon (piano)Play
29th April, 2017William Lloyd Webber and Vincenzo Bellini songsGeorgina Zeitlyn (Sop) and John Bruzon (piano)Play
29th April, 2017Mendelssohn: Songs without WordsAmbrose PagePlay
25th March, 2017Schoenberg and Webern piano piecesKevin AllenPlay
25th March, 2017Elgar: Sea PicturesAngela Goodall (mezzo-soprano), Joe Ward (piano)Play
25th February, 2017Beethoven: Bagatelles Op 126Joe Ward (piano)Play
25th February, 2017Brahms: Cello Sonata E minorNick Cooper, Hugh O'NealPlay
17th December, 2016Erik Satie: La Diva de L'Empire; Je te veuxValeria Guidotti (soprano), Zhanna Kemp (piano)Play
17th December, 2016Beethoven: String Quartet 18 No 3Andrew Biggs, Beatrice Sales, Nick Cooper, Rosemary ColePlay
17th December, 2016Vivaldi: flute concerto in D major Opus 10, No. 3Beatrice Sales (flute), Kevin Allen (piano)Play
17th December, 2016Offenbach: The Doll Song (Tales of Hoffmann)Valerie Guidotti, Zhanna KempPlay
19th November, 2016Songs by Hugo WolfTim Wilcox (tenor), Peter Williams (piano)Play
19th November, 2016Bach: Violin sonata No 4 in C minor, BWV 1017Andrew Biggs, Hugh O'NealPlay
19th November, 2016Piano duets by Schubert and Mike Cornick.Zhanna Kemp and Norman JacobsPlay
19th November, 2016Lute items by John DowlandKevin AllenPlay
29th October, 2016Schubert: Duo in A major for violin and pianoCynthia Eraut, Nicola GrünbergPlay
29th October, 2016Bach: Partita No 4 in D majorHugh O'Neal (piano)Play
29th October, 2016John Ireland: Fantasy-Sonata.Joy Boole (clarinet), Rosemary Kemp (piano)Play
29th October, 2016F P Tosti: Sogno F Liszt: Oh quand je dors R Wagner: Traume (Wesendonck 5)Angela Goodall (mezzo-soprano), Nicola Grünberg (piano)Play
8th October, 2016Purcell: We the Spirits of the Air (The Indian Queen) Monteverdi: Idolo del cor mio (L'Incoronazione di Poppea, 1624) A. Scarlatti: Vinto son (La Statira, 1690) Mostri dell'Erebo (La fede ricononsciuta, 1710) Purcell: Elegy Upon the Death of Queen Mary, 1695 Purcell: Hark! How the Songsters of the Grove (Timon of Athens, 1694)Sue Mileham & Karen Rash (sopranos), Nicola Grunberg (piano)Play
8th October, 2016Schubert: Arpeggione SonataHugh O'Neal & Beatrice Sales (viola)Play
8th October, 2016Brahms: Ballade in D minor Op 10 No 1; Ballade in D Op 10 No 2; Romance Op 118 No 5Rosemary Kemp (piano)Play
11th June, 2016‘Songs for a Summer Evening’Marion Adler (soprano) & Joe Ward (piano)Play
11th June, 2016Flute duets by KuhlauKaren Rash & Jasmine Selby (flutes)Play
11th June, 2016Brahms and Chopin piano solos; Duke Ellington: A Portrait of Bert WilliamsLinda Bhattacharya (piano)Play
16th April, 2016Tosti: Non t'amo più, La Serenata Rachmaninov: How fair this spot, In the silent nightAngela Goodall, Joe WardPlay
12th March, 2016Cesar Franck: Sonata for violin and pianoAndrew Biggs and Kevin AllenPlay
12th March, 2016Gideon Klein: String TrioLaplace String TrioPlay
12th March, 2016Songs by Bellini and BrahmsAndrew Robinson (Bar), Kevin Allen (piano)Play
20th February, 2016Anton Reicha: Sinfonico in D, Op. 12, for 4 Flutes.Karen Rash, Jasmine Selby, Richard Goodman, Paul DorrellPlay

Review: SMC 19th November, Brighton Unitarian Church

The most wide-ranging and satisfying SPC concert for some time. Again we start with consummate Bach playing. Andrew Biggs (violin) and Hugh O’Neal (piano – he recently played Bach’s Partitia No. 4) play something we’re used to hearing more in period instruments. The Violin Sonata No. 4 in c minor BWV 1017 with its slow-fast alternations, in O’Neal’s thoughtful underpinning of the violin’s tricky baroque figuration that Biggs easily commands: these artists can draw out a performance and alternate with a fair zip, and the rich playing was balanced.

Tim Wilcox (tenor) and Peter Williams (piano) did something impressive: make Hugo Wolf’s weirdly inflected late romantic songs sound natural. They’re fiendish: three songs from Moricke and one from Eichendorff tended to the Teutonic Heimatt-longing idiom. This doesn’t do justice to the clarity of both artists in fascinating, less crowd-pleasing repertoire.

Another shift: to late Renaissance, three Dowland lute solos played by Kevin Allen famed for his pianism. The frail ecstasy he managed with perilous gut-string precision of ‘Lachrimae’, ‘Melancholy Galliard’, ‘Semper Dowland’, drew rapt expressivity and pin-drop concentration.

Zhana Kemp’s fine pianism is known here too; Norman Jacob’s organizer of the MOOT concerts. Their four-hand Schubert Rondo in A major D951was a singing delight, in this intricate hymn to consolation. Mike Cornick’s perky ‘Three to Go!’ and the languorous ‘Taking your time’ tripped lightly and very unexpectedly to the end.
Simon Jenner

Review: Sussex Musicians 17th December 2016

Brightness falls from the air with this duo. Satie’s La Dive de L’empire nails wit and a nook of poignancy presaging the celebrated ‘Je te veux’ frankly invites in its cabaret abandon, so unlike Satie’s earlier work, so like his jokes. Valeria Guidotti moulds these with a true pointillistic charm, Zhanna Kemp eliciting the right vampish sonority from the piano.

Their Offenbach from Tales of Hofmann similarly explored precise territory, a singing mannequin in fact in ‘The Doll Song’. Guidotti in fact enacts this rushing on and off stage to strike a doll-effect by winding herself up with rattling sound-effects. That shouldn’t displace the dotted top-notes Guidotti nails to the top of her staves. It was exquisite singing, again a pure-toned high-soprano voice, Guidotti at the top of her very un-mechanical game too, shading in charm with a slinky reconciling of flesh with a bit of platinum technique.

Beatrice Sales and Kevin Allen teamed up again with their flute and piano duo for the first movement of Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto in D major Op 10/3. With impressively dotted birdsong rhythms, it fleshed baroque ornament from vertiginous playing. Allen’s Bach is well-known. Here he had to imitate a trumpeting string-sound with neater ornaments. Sales, well sailed with pure intonation, and somewhere between a mechanical bird (to dredge that Offenbach parallel) and the imitated, immortal original.

Beatrice Sales now on viola joined Andrew Biggs, Rosemary Coles, and cellist Nick Cooper for Beethoven’s String Quartet in B flat Op 18/6.

This is amongst the finest ensemble-playing we’ve heard here, intonation far purer than in the relatively recent past. There’s a crisp rhythm too, and a truly breathing expansiveness that never falters for instance in the opening. Accelerandos too are tightly wound.

Beethoven’s Op 18/6 is an affable, curiously probing work even in the brilliant key of B flat. The appealing tuneful (yes Beethoven wrote good tunes) opening with its more conventional second subject was taken at quite a bounce by the ensemble after the break. The slow movement with its Andante feel exudes a baffled dignity though with its pauses it’s the inflections Beethoven introduces rather than any expressive high that mark out this quartet. The dotted moments are delightfully pinked by the players here.

It’s certainly not the rather weak scherzo with its real wisp of a trio, and repeat of the scherzo material with its wrong-footing reminiscent of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op12/3. In other words it’s been done and the movement if perky is his least memorable. Again crisp, and unhurried the blend of violins with lower instruments was not only precise but telling in the trio with is slithery dark minor, the gem in this otherwise less probing material.

Not so the finale. It starts with the emphatic brightness of the home key and again the players realize this with a performance of growing intensity. Building perhaps from memories of Mozart’s Dissonance K465 Beethoven introduces Melancholia and a gateway to his later work, then alternates with a memorable German dance.

But this isn’t all. He interrupts this repeatedly with the noble silences and sudden expressive chords from the slow movement, that here gain extra expressive weight – and it receives cumulative fire here. Bar the attractive opening, all the quality of the B flat quartet comes in this finale, a fitting culmination the ensemble give full weight to.

They never put a foot or hand wrong in this work, and do their best for the featherweight elements as well as gathering a fugato pace when all themes seem hammered home at once to a throwaway dissolve.

I don’t think we’ve had Beethoven or any other quartet playing of this calibre before, and this performance more than deserves preservation on the site it will stand as one of the flagship records we possess of SPC.

Simon Jenner

Review: 25 March 2017

A disaster and triumph, both unexpected. Stephanie Cant began the evening with a couple of impromptu Bach Preludes in D and G. but her own Seven Fantasies on Turning the Tide and seven Wedding Songs that earned international exposure – were longer anticipated. These unassuming pieces make waves quietly, and post-romantic, post-minimalist with acerbic edges and hypnotic transitions mark out Cant’s clear-headed warmth and playing; a taste for transcendence renders these quietist gems.

Susan Hill heard the premiere of Lennox Berkeley’s 1965 Oboe Sonata and with Hugh O’Neal tackled its later knottier idiom with a dark-toned mastery. Sadly a nosebleed curtailed the performance over two-thirds through; we hope Hill will return. Cant played Chopin’s B minor Prelude (and Etude Op 25/2) to round things.

Kevin Allen wasn’t wrong when he talked of Schoenberg’s Piece Op 33a as overlapping rather than compressed. Gesturally this 1928 twelve-tone work’s a clear. Grasp at it, it goes. Webern’s Variations Op 27 also confuses- its three-movement shrunk sonata, quieter than Schoenberg, a lucid withdrawal, but you get it, and so does Allen, brilliantly pointillistic.

I wasn’t looking forward to Elgar’s Sea Pictures Op 37 reduced to soprano/piano, but after the first ‘Sea Slumber’ Angela Gooddall picked up so much she was uncharacteristically (for this audience) cheered after the third song. The last two songs are dark and Gooddall proved it, Joe Ward leaping out with orchestral sonorities.
Simon Jenner

Sussex Musicians Unitarian 25th February 2017

Three performances, one excellent, the first outstanding.

Pianist Joe Ward’s rendering of Beethoven’s last set of Bagatelles Op 126 – more unpredictably jagged than even previous sets - was simply the finest Beethoven playing ever seen here. Ward’s hammering precision nailed the last, two prestos enclosing an andante cantabile, wayward, full of tigerish leaps to fracture the left hand. It’s no disrespect to Ward to say he’s upped his game in every performance, but nothing prepared us for this which would grace any concert hall.

Ward accompanied the next soloist. We’ve never had a counter-tenor and it’s thrilling to be finally introduced to music in period timbre. Handel’s ‘Dove sei’ from Rodelinda stretches out forever; Jean-Pierre Brzechwa enjoys a fine sense of line. The rub is, he was flat; a swaying head perhaps didn’t help expression. Things markedly improved in Vaughan Williams’ folksy Edwardian ‘Linden Lea’ where words made an impact. Vivaldi’s ‘Sol da te, mio dolce amore’ from the madly distracted song in Orlando Furioso where Karen Rash’s obbligato flute alternated poignantly alongside Ward, layered this languorous piece satisfyingly.

Cellist Nick Cooper and pianist Hugh O’Neal play together often. Their searching Brahms Cello Sonata in E minor Op 38 probes the instruments’ timbres like resonant darkness striving for light it never quite achieves. Two Allegros ruminant and resolute respectively, enclose an Allegretto-Quasi-Menuetto recalling middle-aged burghers galumphing round the brothel Brahms played in for pfennigs. Sovereign playing next to superb Beethoven.

Simon Jenner