Friday, May 24, 2024

Shaldon Festival 1997

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The Bingham String Quartet

Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields

Young Musician’s Platform

Choral Workshop and Informal Concert 1997 directed by Michael Lane

The Bingham String Quartet

Bingham String Quartet
Bingham String Quartet

Sunday 22 June 1997

Bingham String Quartet
Concert sponsored by the Viscount Amory Trust

Stephen Bingham violin
Sally-Ann Weeks violin
Brenda Stewart viola
James Halsey cello

with guest
Sebastain Millett cello

Haydn: Quartet in D No. 4, Op. 20
Martin Butler: Songs and Dances from a Haunted Place
Schubert: Quintet in C Op. 163

The professional highlight of the 1997 Festival was provided by the Bingham String Quartet, in a concert sponsored by the Viscount Amory Trust. The quartet is a fine group whose work and preparation together result in beautiful ensemble playing, their alertness and sensitivity to each other enabling them to explore a wide range of dynamics and nuances, easily heard within the good acoustics of the church. The programme included Haydn Quartet in D, Op. 20 No. 4 and the great double cello Quintet in C, Op. 163 by Schubert, when the quartet was joined by an equally gifted second cellist, Sebastian Millett. In both works we heard full singing tone and fine articulation of even the fastest passages.

It was particularly pleasing that they included a contemporary piece, Songs and Dances from a Haunted Place by Martin Butler (b.1960). Some explanation and guidance for listening was given before the work was performed, which was thoroughly musical and not gimmicky, full of atmosphere and colour,with again the wonderful string tone.

Both Sebastian and James Halsey, the quartet cellist, were pupils of Eileen Croxford, the Festival’s President. Shaldon is greatly indebted to her for bringing not only the Bingham Quartet but also for the professional links she provides with so many musicians across the country, and for heading the arrangements for a Festival that grows yearly in stature and attendance.

Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martins in the Field
St Martins in the Fields

Saturday 21 June 1997

Choir of St Martin in the Fields
Director: Paul Stubbings

Fauré: Requiem
Morley: Fyer, Fyer!
Farnaby: Consture my meaning
Weelkes: Thus sings my dearest jewel
Byrd: Though Amaryllis Dance
Tippett: Five Spirituals from ‘A Child of Our Time’
Gibbons: The Cries of London
Finzi: Lo, The Full Final Sacrifice
Sherwin/Maschwitz: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

Saturday introduced for the first time the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Whilst the delicate tone of their performance of the Fauré Requiem admirably captured the mood of this popular work, it would have benefited from an allowance for the ‘dampening’ effect on the excellent acoustic properties of St Peter’s Church when a large body of people is present. In consequence some of the quieter passages were lost towards the back of the church, especially so the bass line. Nevertheless there were many lovely moments, none more so than the boy treble tone produced by the soprano who sang Pie Jesu. Likewise the tenors produced a real atmospheric sound in the opening bars of the Agnus Dei. Nicholas Danks provided an assured organ accompaniment.

The second half of their programme with its London Theme produced ‘mixed results’.

Madrigals clearly showed the versatility of the choir, notably in Byrd Since Robin Hood. In this section the basses had their best moments of the evening.

Michael Tippett Five Spirituals teased the choir and overall they rose well to the challenge.

Orlando Gibbons The Cries of London sung by a section of the choir, was in comparison disappointing with only one voice really capturing the mood of this too infrequently sung work.

For the reviewer, the highlight of the evening was Finzi Lo the Full Final Sacrifice. The chording, beautifully sung lines and carefully executed intervals resulted in a quality performance of this very difficult piece.

This choir of amateur singers, performing for the love of music, provided a memorable evening and under Paul Stubbings will, I am sure, go from strength to strength.

Michael Keast

Young Musicians’ Platform

Friday 20 June 1997

Young Musicians Platform
Concert supported by Renwicks Audi, Newton Abbot.

Finalists of the 1996 Audi Junior Musicians Competition

Joanne Hicks: Horn and Russell Lomas: Piano
Hummel: Sonatine for Horn and Piano Op. 75a, 3rd movement
Gliere: Romance Op. 35 No. 6
Mozart: Concerto No. 2 in Eb K417, 3rd movement
Samuel Adler: Sonata for Horn and Piano, 2nd movement

Rakhi Singh
Rakhi Singh

Rakhi Singh: (pictured) Violin and Russell Lomas: Piano
JS Bach: Concerto in E major
Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen Op. 20

Alisdair Hogarth: Piano
Poulenc: L’histoire de babar, le petit elephant
Chopin: Mazurka in A minor Op. 17 No. 4
Liszt: Mephisto Waltz

The Young Musicians’ Platform was provided by contestants of the 1996 Audi Young Musician Competition, Joanne Hicks, 15 years, French horn, the SW Regional finalist; Alisdair Hogarth, 16 years, piano, a National finalist; and Rakhi Singh, 15 years, violin, overall winner of the competition.

This was a delightful programme. All three musicians are very talented. Joanne made the notoriously difficult horn sound easy, and in her selection of music by Hummel, Gliere, Mozart and Adler exhibited a great variety of musical sounds with skill. Rakhi played with a poise and elegance beyond her years. A fractionally nervous beginning swiftly gave way to a performance that grew in stature, exhibiting skilful command of her instrument. Her sparkling playing of Zigeunerweisen Op. 20 by Sarasate thrilled and excited the packed audience. Both Joanne and Rakhi were skilfully accompanied by Russell Lomas, Head of Accompaniment at Chetham’s School, where both girls are students.

A delightful concession to the many young people in the audience was Alisdair’s inclusion of The Story of Baba, the little elephant, by Francis Poulenc, for which Leon Winston ably read the narration. Alisdair, pupil at Colchester Royal Grammar Shcool, has a natural keyboard capability and rounded off the evening with a Chopin Mazurka and the demanding Mephisto Waltz by Liszt. Such talented young artistes excited and satisfied the audience.

Janyce Pringle

(Footnote. Rakhi Singh went on to become a finalist in the 2000 BBC Young Musician of the Year and she is in regular demand for concert performances. She is a member of the Barbirolli Quartet.)

Choral Workshop and Informal Concert 1997 directed by Michael Lane

Peter Adcock
Peter Adcock

Thursday 19 June 1997

Choral Workshop and Concert

Michael Lane: Conductor
Peter Adcock: Organ
Julie de’Ath Lancaster: Soprano
Gordon Pike: Tenor
James Robertson: Baritone

Haydn: The Creation

The first event of the 1997 Festival was a stirring performance of Haydn Creation by a chorus of 95 singers who were conducted by Michael Lane. It proved to be a tremendous experience for the singers and, whilst the performance was not perfect, especially in the less well known final section, the result was robust and joyful. The soloists, Julie De’Ath Lancaster, Gordon Pike and James Robertson gave an impressive performance, full of power and good presentation and the organist, Peter Adcock, played the very difficult score quite brilliantly.

Janyce Pringle