Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Shaldon Festival 2014

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Grieg Trio

Choral Workshop and Informal Concert 2014 directed by Gavin Carr

Young Musicians from the Royal College of Music

Bath Philharmonia

Grieg Trio

Greig Trio photo
Grieg Trio with Eileen Parkhouse


Concert
Sunday 22 June 2014
Start Time: 7.30pm
Concert presented in association with the Parkhouse Award and supported by Exeter and District Classical Music Society

GRIEG TRIO
Vebjørn Anvik piano
Sølve Sigerland violin
Margrete Flesjø cello

Programme:
Joseph Haydn Piano Trio in G major, Hob.XV:25 ‘Gypsy’
Ernest Bloch Three Nocturnes
Dmitry Shostakovich Piano Trio No 1 in C minor
Felix Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D minor

Photo of Grieg Trio at the Shaldon Festival Patrons Supper following their concert performance. Pictured with them are Eileen Parkhouse (centre) the Festival President and Ro Rickett (left) Festival Chairman. Photo courtesy of Viv Wilson.

Concert Review

It is entirely appropriate that the 25th Season of the Shaldon Festival, which began life in 1990 as a memorial concert to celebrate the life of David Parkhouse, ended with a concert performed by the Grieg Trio, first winners of the Parkhouse Award in 1991. Travelling from Norway, and on their first visit to the Festival, the players gave outstanding performances of four contrasting piano trios.

They began their programme with Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trio in G major Hob.XV:25, the second of three trios dedicated to Rebecca Schroeter, a young widow with whom Haydn had formed a close, possibly amorous relationship during his second visit to London in 1794-5. The opening movement was stylish and elegant with long flowing phrases. In the slower second movement Sølve Sigerland’s beautifully expressive violin solo on the main theme had this reviewer convinced this was the sound of Haydn in love. The Presto finale, the famous gypsy rondo, was played at a blistering speed and heavily accented; a very exciting rendition.

The quiet and calm opening to Ernest Bloch’s Three Nocturnes for Piano Trio provided a stark contrast to what had gone before. Composed in 1924, each movement depicts various characteristics of night and this dreamy, reflective music was captured well by the Grieg Trio players. The second Nocturne began with an expansive cello melody and it was a chance for Ellen Margrete Flesjø to shine, having been confined to a largely accompanying role in the Haydn.

Completing the first half, the Grieg Trio gave a compelling performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No.1 in C minor. A mere 16 year old student, Shostakovich wrote this piece in the summer of 1923 whilst recovering from poor health in a sanatorium in the Crimea. In the event, he not only regained his strength but fell in love with a fellow 16 year old patient, Tatyana Glivenko, to whom the Piano Trio is dedicated. The contrasts of pace and energy in this single movement work were handled superbly well by the Grieg Trio players; lyrical romantic melodies juxtaposed with spiky, rhythmic passages. Vebjørn Anvik’s piano playing was hugely impressive.

The final Trio performed in the concert, Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op.49 No.1, was described by Robert Schumann in 1840 as “the most masterly piano trio of the present day”. Well in June 2014 at the Shaldon Festival it was given a masterly interpretation by the Grieg Trio. There was such a perfect balance and understanding between the three players; it was a consummate display of musicianship and played with such obvious affection. The beautiful Andante was lovingly phrased and the Allegros abounded in lively activity.

Prolonged applause at the end was rewarded with a delightful encore: the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Trio No.1.

The Festival had waited 25 years to hear the Grieg Trio. It is hoped it will not be such a long gap before their next visit.

Enid Hayles

Biography Grieg Trio

Following their successful debut in 1987, the Grieg Trio went on to study with András Mihály in Budapest, and later with Norbert Brainin of the Amadeus Quartet and Eli Goren of the Allegri Quartet.

Grieg Trio’s international reputation is due in part to a series of recordings on SIMAX, Virgin and EMI featuring works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Smetana and Shostakovich; their fame also owes much to extensive concert tours and appearances at such prestigious venues as London’s Wigmore Hall, Châtelet in Paris, Berlin Konzerthaus, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Sale Verdi in Milan, and New York’s Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall.

Grieg Trio have received numerous prizes for their performances, including the prestigious Parkhouse Award, which secured the trio a series of concerts in London; first prize in the Colmar International Chamber Music Competition in France in 1989; and a Norwegian Spellemann prize for best classical recording (Dvorak piano trios) in 2004. Alongside performances and recordings of much of the standard repertoire Grieg Trio has commissioned, performed and recorded works by leading contemporary composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Erkki-Sven Tüür, and Lasse Thoresen.

From 2004-2009 Grieg Trio were artistic directors of the acclaimed Stavanger International Chamber Music Festival in Norway.


Choral Workshop and Informal Concert 2014 directed by Gavin Carr

Gavin Carr photo
Gavin Carr

Saturday 21 June 2014
Verdi Requiem
Conductor: Gavin Carr
Piano: Peter Adcock
Soprano: Anna Jeruc-Kopec
Mezzo Soprano: Marianne E Andersen
Tenor: Alex Tsilogiannis
Bass: Piotr Lempa

Concert Review
From the opening spine-chilling, sombre entry of the bass singers to the peaceful and essentially optimisitic closing bars, this most lyrical and operatic of requiems was performed with passion and drama by a huge choir of 200 voices under the exuberant and highly expressive direction of Gavin Carr.

And St Peter’s Church on a warm mid-summer evening was a perfect setting to experience his emotionally-charged and dramatic work. The Shaldon Festival Choir performed with commendable skill and cohesion, having rehearsed together for barely five hours that day. They were joined by four soloists of the highest quality, (hailing from Poland, Norway and Greece) whose voices merged and complemented one another with pleasing subtlety.

And, special mention shold be made of Peter Adcock at the piano who held together the 200 voices. From the frenzy of excitement in the Dies Irae to the reflective, pastoral mood of the Offertorio and the paean of praise in the Sanctus, Gavin Carr extracted the whole range of emotions from the singers who clearly found the experience of the day a hugely rewarding and enjoyable one, as well as a considerable learning experience to work with professionals of exceptional talent.

Neil McRae

GAVIN CARR

Gavin Carr was born in London and studied music and art history at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a Choral Scholar in the celebrated Chapel Choir. He then emigrated for five years to Australia, where he began his singing career working with leading ensembles including the Victoria State Opera. Returning to Europe via study in the US, Gavin made his name as a baritone, appearing at many festivals and with major orchestras and choruses worldwide in concert and recital, and recording for BBC and German radio

Numerous opera appearances in the UK, France, Ireland, Australia and Italy followed, but in 2003 Gavin accepted the post of Music Director of The Athenaeum Singers in Warminster, swiftly following this with Assistant Conductor at the Wexford Festival where he made his operatic conducting debut with the Peter Brook version of Bizet’s Carmen, which was nominated for ‘Best Opera Production of 2007’ in the Irish Times National Arts Awards. An affiliation with the Bath Philharmonic began in 2006 when he was appointed Associate Principal Conductor.

In April 2007 Gavin made his debut with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducting Emma Kirkby, Sarah Connolly and James Gilchrist in the St Matthew Passion in Bath Abbey. This event saw the inauguration of a new professional choir, Chorus Angelorum. In January 2008 he took up the Music Directorship of the Bath Minerva Choir. In 2009 he took the South West Festival Chorus on a tour to China of The Dream of Gerontius. Towards the end of 2009, Gavin was appointed Chorus Director of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, in recognition of his rapid development as a conductor with a special gift for motivating singers and achieving the highest levels of performance through his commitment and energy. As further recognition of this gift, in 2011 he was appointed Chorus Master of Wexford Festival Opera.


Young Musicians from the Royal College of Music

Concert
Date: Friday 20 June 2014
Performer(s): Young Musicians from the Royal College of Music

Programme:

Savannah Brown
Astor Piazzolla Histoire du Tango
i Bordello 1900
Paule Maurice Tableaux de Provence
i Farandoulo di chatouno
iv Dis Alyscamps L’Amo Souspire
v Lou Cabridan
Roberto Molinelli Four pictures from New York
i Dreamy Dawn
Andret Jolivet Fantaisie Impromptu
Robert Planel Prelude et Saltarelle
Pedro Itturalde Pequena Czarda

Lara Melda
Beethoven Sonata No.17 in D minor ‘The Tempest’ Op.31 No.2
Poulenc Trois Novelettes
Chopin Ballade No.1 in G minor

Concert Review
A key mission of the Shaldon Festival is to encourage young people to play and enjoy classical music and the Friday evening is always a showcase for some fine young musicians. Saxophonist, Savannah Brown and pianist Lara Melda are two award-winning musicians from The Royal College of Music.

Savannah, 17, plays alto and tenor saxophones, her recital revealing her remarkable talent. Showing considerable technical skill, her precision and clarity throughout the varied programme demonstrated Savannah’s ability to play music of contrasting moods and colours, with beautiful singing tones. She took her bow to the sustained applause of a highly appreciative audience.

Lara Melda first played piano at the Shaldon Festival in 2010, having just won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. Now 20, she has played in recitals across Europe. From the first notes of Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata, the audience knew they were in for something special. Playing from memory, Lara displayed a wonderful concentration letting the silences between the notes speak as powerfully as the played notes.

With impressive technical mastery and musical understanding, this was a piano recital of the highest order. Chopin’s Ballade No 1 in G Minor was played with sustained power, passion and confidence, we knew we were listening to a truly gifted pianist.

As the final notes drifted into silence, the audience erupted into prolonged applause, bringing Lara back on stage three times until she conceded to its request and played an encore. Bravo!
Roger Kirk

LARA MELDA

Lara Melda playing piano photo
Lara Melda

At the age of sixteen Lara Melda won the BBC Young Musician 2010 competition, performing Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No.2 in the final round, with Vasily Petrenko and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Cardiff. The competition had an international following via television and radio broadcasts on the BBC. Since then she has also performed Mozart Concerto K466 and Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

This season Lara will make her debut performing at the Barbican in London and also with the Britten Sinfonia, in a performance of Britten’s Young Apollo. Recital performances include Istanbul and her debut at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg as well as several concerts in the UK. Previous concerto performances have included Rachmaninov with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Kirill Karabits, Mozart with the Aurora Orchestra and Nicholas Collon (Kings Place) and Beethoven 3 with the National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand. She has played recitals at Les SommetsMusicaux in Gstaad (Switzerland), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival (Germany) and the Wigmore Hall.

Lara Melda performs regularly in Turkey and made her debut at the International Music Festival in Istanbul in June 2011. She has also been presented by the ‘Istanbul Recitals’ piano series and performed at the Antalya Piano Festival.

Lara is a student at the Royal College of Music where she is a Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Scholar supported by a Musicians’ Company Lambert Studentship. She is very grateful for support from the Nurol Holding and Mr Çarmikh.

SAVANNAH BROWN

Savannah is 17 years old and has attended the Royal College of Music Junior Department for 8 years. It is here where she studies saxophone with Sarah Markham. As well as being a pupil at RCM, she is a pupil and music scholar at Marlborough College where she has been since she was 13. She studies violin there with Philip Dukes. In 2012 she achieved her ABRSM diplomas on saxophone and violin. With the saxophone she was fortunate enough to gain a distinction. In the holidays, Savannah spends her time at the National Youth Orchestra where she is a principal violin player. She has been a member of NYO since she was 14 and has been fortunate to play in four proms concerts with a variety or artists including Vasily Pertrenko and Joana McGregor as well as being part of the reduced orchestra that played at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Coronation concerts. Last October, Savannah went on a music tour to New York State and Pennsylvania where she performed both saxophone and violin. She has just finished her final year at school and will hopefully be attending music conservatoire in September . Savannah won The Royal College of Music’s Mary Gotch prize and has been a finalist in several of the London Conservatoire’s top music competitions on Saxophone and Violin.


Bath Philharmonia

Tamsin Waley-Cohen – photo courtesy of Viv Wilson

Concert
Thursday 19 June 2014

Performer(s): Bath Philharmonia
Conductor: Jason Thornton
Violin: Tamsin Waley-Cohen

Mozart Symphony No 1
Vaughan Williams Violin Concerto
Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
Mozart Symphony No 40

Concert Review
Jason Thornton and his orchestra brought us a beautifully balanced programme of Mozart and Vaughan Williams. They began with Mozart’s first symphony, written at the age of eight, whilst in London. It is scored for a small orchestra – just strings, oboes and horns – and the warm sound of the Bath Philharmonia strings and the beautiful wind playing made this simple piece a pleasure to hear.

The Vaughan Williams Violin Concerto (Concerto Accademico) followed, played by Tamsin Waley-Cohen, a violinist of prodigious technique and exquisite musicality. After her moving performance with the school children at the lunchtime concert, it was fascinating to hear her in the more formal concert setting with the Bath Philharmonia. Tamsin is renowned for her interpretation of the works of Vaughan Williams, and this performance showed us why.

The first movement is rhythmic and driving in parts, and more pastoral in others and Tamsin’s energetic and exciting playing contrasted with the eloquent sounds of the gentler sections. She is able to produce an amazing range of tonal variation from her Stradivarius violin, sometimes rich and powerful and sometimes very sweet and gentle. The second movement has a more elegiac feel, and Tamsin’s richness of tone and beautiful sustained melodic lines held us entranced. The final movement is a romp of a jig, with chordal rhythmic sections and scurrying melodies. Tamsin brought tremendous energy to this whilst still retaining a strength and warmth of tone.

After the interval, Tamsin returned to play the nation’s favourite piece of music, The Lark Ascending, also by Vaughan Williams. This is a beautiful piece, at times folky, at times ethereal, and often rhapsodic in character. Tamsin Waley-Cohen produces a wonderful range of tone – deep rich sounds, but also beautifully delicate sustained pianissimos right at the top of the instrument, with a very sweet sound. She is an extraordinarily expressive player conveying every change of mood with intensity and commitment, and has a stunning technique too, so that she makes the piece seem easy, and flow from beginning to end. The final few exposed solo notes were exquisite.

Mozart’s 40th symphony is well known and popular for good reason. It is an elegant but stern piece in the key of G minor. From the sadly falling phrase of the beginning to the dramatic development of the first movement, the Bath Philharmonia’s playing was polished and eloquent. The plaintive woodwind interjections were beautifully played. The string sound in the andante was lovely and melodic dialogue with the wind was smooth and beautifully balanced. The Minuet is almost grim in its sturdy rhythmic and contrapuntal character, contrasting with the gentler trio and its woodwind phrases. Wonderful playing again catching the differing moods within this movement.
We were suddenly wrenched out of this dark but elegant place by the relentless finale. The Bath Phil played with great energy and verve, maintaining the intensity of the music to the last chord.

This was a terrific concert – a beautifully balanced programme and a stunning performance by great musicians.

Kate Hill-Art

Jason Thornton

Jason Thornton is Music Director of Bath’s resident professional orchestra Bath Philharmonia. He is artistically responsible for one of the largest and most respected professional organisations of its type in the South West of England and with this orchestra he became the world’s youngest conductor to have performed all Mahler’s symphonic output.

He has also worked with many of Britain’s finest professional orchestras and choral ensembles including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, Halle Orchestra, English Northern Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Chorus. Jason is also Principal Guest Conductor Designate for the Arensky Chamber Orchestra (London), Principal Guest Conductor with the National Schools Symphony Orchestra and Music Director for South West Festival Chorus. Abroad he has worked with the Kaposvar Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, North West Symphony Orchestra (USA), East Oregon Symphony Orchestra and Jykvaskyla Sinfonia (Finland.

During recent seasons he has collaborated with many internationally regarded soloists, including Natalie Clein, Michael Collins, Sarah Connolly and Tasmin Little. Recent performances have included the Chinese premiere performance of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius in Beijing and Shanghai, Strauss Four Last Songs with Renee Fleming, cycles of piano concertos by Beethoven, Chopin and Ravel with Peter Donohoe, Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto with Craig Ogden and the City of London Sinfonia.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen

Described by The Times as a violinist “who held us rapt in daring and undaunted performances” and by The Guardian as a performer of “fearless intensity”, Tamsin Waley-Cohen performs as a soloist with orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic, Graz Kammerphilharmonie, and Chapelle Musicale de Tournai, under conductors including Andrew Litton, Tamas Vasary and Nicolae Moldoveanu. She has played at the Cadogan, Queen Elizabeth and Barbican halls in London, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Bridgewater Hall Manchester, and in venues across the UK and the Continent.

This season will see performances at the Wigmore Hall and King’s Place in London, as well as concerto and chamber music concerts in Austria, France, Spain, and Sweden. “An American in Paris” Tamsin’s Debut CD, with Huw Watkins has been released to cricital acclaim.

In demand as a recitalist, Tamsin’s partners include Huw Watkins, Tom Poster, and Simon Crawford-Philips. She also regularly plays with cellist Gemma Rosefield, and has worked with artists such as Andreas Haefliger, Heinz Holliger and Anssi Kartonnen. She has premiered works by composers including Torsten Rasch, Joseph Phibbs, and Richard Causton; in 2011 she gave the premiere of a new “Concertino” written for her by Huw Watkins. She also values her experience as a chamber musician and has formed the Honeymead Ensemble, resident at the Tricycle Theatre in London from 2011-2012 as well as the Honeymead Festival on Exmoor. Tamsin has performed in many festivals – Cheltenham, Academia San Felice, Florence Chamber Music, The Two Moors and Presteigne, three years ago making her American debut with the Mendelssohn Concerto in the Bowdoin Festival. Last year she was artist in residence at Frome Festival.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen was born in London in 1986. She became a Foundation Scholar, studying with Itzhak Rashkovsky, at the Royal College of Music where she won all available awards, including – twice – the concerto competition, and was their String Player of the Year in 2005. Numerous competition successes include winning the 2005 Royal Over-Seas League String Prize and the 2007 J&A Beare Bach competition.
Tamsin has participated in master classes given by Ida Haendel, Igor Ozim, and Ruggiero Ricci, the latter describing her as “the most exceptionally gifted young violinist I have ever encountered.”

Since 2007 she has played the 1721 ex-Fenyves Stradivarius violin.