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Sunday 23 June 2013
Haydn: Quartet Op.76 No.1
Britten: Three Divertimenti
Schumann: Piano Quintet
Finzi Quartet with Ashley Fripp
Concert presented in association with the Royal Over-Seas League
Marie Salvat violin Louise Salmona violin
Helene Desaint viola Lydia Shelley cello
Ashley Fripp piano
The final concert of the 2013 Shaldon Festival maintained the excellent standard set over the three previous evenings. The young all female Finzi String Quartet based in Lyon in France, prize winners in the prestigious Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, was joined by the young pianist Ashley Fripp, who had also won the Award for Keyboard at the same Competition.
From the opening bars of the first piece, Haydn Quartet Op 76 No 1, the rapport and understanding between the four players was clear and the opening movement was energetic and full of high spirits. The expansive, hymn-like Adagio demonstrated the full dynamic range of the quartet with breathtaking pianissimos. A zippy Minuetto in scherzo form followed with a dramatic finale. As always with Haydn, there was a little something here for everyone; the sum total made to seem effortless.
This was followed by the Finzi Quartet’s contribution to the Benjamin Britten centenary celebrations, a little known early work entitled Three Divertimenti for String Quartet. The score was intended as a series of character movements of three school friends and the Finzi Quartet captured the spirit of each one very effectively whilst at the same time showcasing their technical prowess, ably led by first violin Marie Salvat.
The eagerly anticipated final work of the concert, Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat is one of the brightest jewels in the Romantic chamber repertoire and the Finzi Quartet with Ashley Fripp delivered a highly assured performance of this marvellous work. The only practical problem with this piece is that the piano – Schumann’s own instrument – can often dominate. In this performance all the important solo string detail was clearly audible, but the piano remained strong and sonorous. The second subject in the opening movement produced some exquisite cello playing from Lydia Shelley, no doubt obtaining the full approval of her former teacher Eileen Croxford Parkhouse (President of the Shaldon Festival) sitting in the audience. The rather haunting funereal theme of the second movement was demonstrated exceptionally well by the viola player Helene Desaint. For sheer joie de vivre the third movement Scherzo is hard to match and its ascending and descending scales is particularly exhilarating, delivered with panache by Ashley Fripp. The final movement’s dynamic lead-up to the ending fugue flowed on with immense fun to its vigorous, galloping final bars, followed by rapturous applause from the audience; a fitting end to this year’s festival.
We are most grateful to the Royal Over-Seas League for financially supporting this concert.
Choral Workshop and Informal Concert 2013 directed by Brian Kay
Saturday 22 June 2013
Performer(s): Brian Kay
Musical Director: Brian Kay
Piano: Peter Adcock
Soprano: Heloise West
Mezzo Soprano: Rebecca Smith
On Saturday 22 June in St Peter’s Church Shaldon the Shaldon Festival Choir under the baton of Brian Kay, the well-known and popular choral conductor, television and radio presenter and ex-King’s Singer, raised the roof with two contrasting settings of the Gloria. The first was composed in 1959 by Francis Poulenc and was considered extremely scandalous in its day; the second was the very well-known and joyful setting by Antonio Vivaldi composed about 1715 for an orphanage for girls in Venice.
The larger part of the day was spent on the Poulenc, but it all came together in an informal performance largely due to the linking solo sections sung quite exquisitely by soprano Héloïse West. Her lovely clear soprano voice was beautifully enhanced by the wonderful acoustic of St Peter’s. After the interval the Choir obviously enjoyed the very popular Vivaldi Gloria and this time Héloïse was joined by mezzo soprano Rebecca Smith who also sang beautifully.
Peter Adcock, the Official Accompanist to the Shaldon Festival, accompanied for the day on the piano in his usual brilliant style.
Brian Kay worked the Choir hard, but the day was most enjoyable, good fun and instructive, and at the end it was obvious from the ovation that the audience too had thoroughly enjoyed the final performance.
Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Friday 21 June 2013
Performer(s): Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Stephanie Gonley violin Martin Burgess violin
Robert Smissen viola Fiona Bonds viola
Stephen Orton cello Martin Loveday cello
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
Brahms: String Sextet No.1 in B flat Op.18
The Academy always arouses a high level of expectation. They are one of the top touring ensembles in the world and bring together players of outstanding ability.
The programme was planned to begin with the Mozart Quintet for Horn and Strings but due, at the last moment, to the horn player Tim Brown being indisposed the evening began with a two- movement sextet by Borodin. This proved to be no more than a curtain raiser, and one could sense the disappointment both in the change to the programme and the alternative music offered. ‘Tame’ is the word I would use.
What followed made up for this inadequate start. Tchaikovsky’s Sextet in D minor (Souvenir de Florence) is a stormy, almost wild work. It makes huge demands on all players who play as if at any moment they will surge out of control. The Academy was very much in control and it also provided a demonstration of what makes them so highly accomplished. A great deal of the work is rousing and energetic and in the intimate space of St Peter’s one is able to observe a group of players who took full command of the richness, technical intricacies and sheer speed of an exacting and pretty ferocious score. For the audience this was a hold on to your seat experience. Because of the considerable demands made one member of the audience commented ‘I’m not sure Tchaikovsky really liked his players’. What I do know is that it was a great pleasure to be in the company of players who aim high and achieve outstanding success.
After the interval we were in the calmer waters of Brahms with his Sextet for Strings. As you would expect from this composer there was a romantic, emotional feel to the piece. This was very true of the opening and third movements. The highlight, I thought, was the second movement when we heard a set of six variations based on a Hungarian gypsy melody. This was a delight and very evocative of people who enjoy open air celebration and dance. Sometimes gentle and thoughtful, and occasionally frenetic, the music had melodic qualities which demanded and received full audience attention.
The final movement was sedate in comparison and written in sonata form. Although quite charming, giving, at the opening, the cello an opportunity to show off, it was in many ways an anti- climax to the work as a whole. What was then needed to finish off the evening was for the Academy to play an attractive and lively encore. But there was none.
Chetham’s School of Music Ensemble, Benjamin Britten: Noye’s Fludde
Thursday 20 June 2013
Director: Tony Lidington
Conductor: Stephen Threlfall
Noye: Julian Rippon
Mrs Noye:Helen Haviland
Voice of God: Leon Winston
Chetham’s School of Music Ensemble
To mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth on 22 November 2013, this year’s Shaldon Festival opened with an outstanding performance of Noye’s Fludde.
This opera was specially written for community production by Benjamin Britten, one of England’s foremost 20th century composers. Promoted by the Shaldon Festival, and supported by The Helen Foundation and six other Trusts including that of the D’Oyly Carte, this venture involved young people from Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester – one of the UK’s leading music schools – and over 80 youngsters from local schools including Hazeldown, Our Lady and St Patrick, Shaldon, Stokeinteignhead and Dawlish and Teignmouth Community Schools. Led by Director Tony Lidington and Chetham’s Director of Music Stephen Threlfall, and featuring professional singers Julian Rippon and Helen Haviland in the lead roles of Mr and Mrs Noah, this full-scale production in St Peter’s Church, Shaldon even included a flood that engulfed the audience, a raven and a dove flying through the nave and a rainbow appearing magically to light up the inside of the church. You had to be there…
A year in the planning and three months in the making, this was a superb production and the young people rose to the challenge of the occasion. With set and bird and animal head-dresses created by the children themselves with guidance from designers Gin Farrow-Jones and Karen Abadie, the production was visually exciting as well as musically outstanding. Over 750 metres of ribbon were used in the event! It was a true community venture, with support from the Shaldon Singers, and an age range from 8 to 80 among the performers.
We are most grateful for the generous support of
Father Ashley Lewin Manhire Bequest
Chetham’s School of Music and the Britten-Pears Foundation
Devon County Council Councillor’s Fund
D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
The Golsoncott Foundation
The Helen Foundation
The Marjorie and Geoffrey Jones Charitable Trust