Viva Vanhal!

vanhalcdcover1MUSICWEB’s review of Ensemble DeNOTE’s Vanhal Clarinet Sonatas arrived today!

If these sonatas are still unknown to you then take note – the Sonata No.3 in E flat is a ‘wonderful third work’. On the disc we preceded it with the Sonatina in E flat – ‘this works so well I was actually startled’.

‘For lovers of historical instruments and performance practices, this is a real treat….nobody will wish for a modern instrument in their stead.’ Two nice reviews in one day, wonderful!

Gramophone Review for Ensemblef2

photoVery pleased to receive a review from Gramophone Magazine today, ‘This is a wonderful match of interesting repertoire and classy musicianship.’ Our approach seems to have hit the spot from the start of Danzi’s lovely Quintet (Op.41), ‘The brooding yet beguiling sonority of the Larghetto opening features softly sustained chords that are immaculately balanced by James Eastaway (oboe), Jane Booth (clarinet), Ursula Leveaux (bassoon) and Anneke Scott (horn); all are on scintillating form in this masterfully crafted and elegantly dramatic music’.The Fritz fortepiano from Finchcocks receives a special mention as does the wonderful Steven – ‘Devine’s alert sensitivity and Booth’s cantabile expressiveness form a fine partnership in the Sonata in B flat for fortepiano and clarinet (Op 54)’.

A busy month

La-Clemenza-portrait-icon-web-use128 March 2014

Following on from February, which included my first return to my alma mater, The University of Sheffield since 1991 (for a concert with Ensemble DeNOTE), March highlights included a concert performance of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at Cadogan Hall with Classical Opera Company (13 March) and a CD recording with DeNOTE (24-8 March) of Beethoven’s self-arrangements of two of his most popular works, the Septet, Op.20 (arranged for clarinet, cello and piano) and the Piano and Winds Quintet, Op.16 (arranged as a Piano Quartet).

Clemenza includes two significant obbligato arias, ‘Parto, Parto‘ (scored for obbligato basset clarinet) and ‘Non piu di fiori’ (scored for obbligato basset horn) – making 4 instruments in all for the principal playing the whole opera! I was thrilled to be playing alongside such wonderful singers as Helen Sherman and Gillian Ramm.

Working at St Martin’s East Woodhay is a rewarding experience – the acoustic is ideal for chamber music, and supported by a great team including Adrian Hunter as Sound Engineer and Co-Producer and Ed Pickering as instrument technician, we were able to make the very best of this special place. We look forward to the CD being ready in time for Christmas!

How adrenaline can help…..

Jane and Clarinets08 002February 2nd 2014
Emerging from a heavy dose of flu to write this retrospectively, I can scarcely believe that I actually played the recent concert of chamber music by Mozart and Hummel with Fiori Musicale at Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, home to ancestors of George Washington – First President of the United States. Fiori’s intrepid Director, Penelope Rapson kept persuading me that I was ‘looking much better now!’ almost up to the moment I walked on stage. Thanks to my wonderful colleagues Malu, Kathryn, Jane and Poppy who even brought me back a cooked meal from a local hostelry (scoffed just moments before the start!) we got through. I have almost no memory of the performance itself….

 

A Northern Welcome

_927055819 January 2014

Returning to my roots today for a concert in the Sowerby Music series. Once again sporting three instruments (including basset horn and basset clarinet) for music by Beethoven, Mozart and Vanhal, I had the perfect opportunity to introduce unfamiliar repertoire (or familiar repertoire in unfamiliar guises in the case of Beethoven’s “Basset Horn” Sonata and Mozart’s “Grand Sonate”) to a large and appreciative audience in the spacious and resonant acoustic of Oswald’s, Sowerby – apparently the largest audience ever in their flourishing Sunday concert series masterminded by the ebullient Graham Merriam. Curious members of the audience used the interval to inspect our instruments at close quarters and one was able to offer a supply of boxwood for an instrument maker of my acquaintance.

Guildhall Historical Performance Department Open Day

2GSMDNo125ColourJpegIMG_08754 December 2013

A busy day with lots of visitors coming to the Guildhall’s HP Department. Events include a side-by-side demonstration and lunchtime concert showcasing our partnership with AAM, and led by Pavlo Beznosiuk. Also an opportunity to show prospective students around the fantastic facilities of Milton Court, the School’s state-of-the-art new building, opened earlier this term.

Boas House Concerts

IMG_9658a27 November 2013

One of the lesser-known jewels of the London concert calendar, the regular series of house concerts organised by philanthropist Bob Boas at his Robert Adam home in Mansfield Street offers a wide range of solo and chamber events of the highest international standard. Artists give their services for free, supporting the building of funds to sponsor musical opportunities of various kinds, including kickstarting the careers of young instrumentalists and singers. Frequently the Boas concerts offer opportunities to try out programmes that are being performed in high-profile venues, or due for recording. Altogether a very worthy feature of London cultural life.

I attended two of the Boas concerts recently, the first by violinist Bojan Cicic and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, delivering a spectacular evening of virtuosity and introducing well-known baroque staples along with some rarities, the second a fortepiano lecture-recital of Haydn sonatas by John Irving. The intimacy of these occasions lends itself well to the chamber music repertoire, especially when performed on the more delicate historical instruments.