This week has been a whirlwind of thinking, talking and doing. So much new and insightful information has come my way for which I’m truly grateful – feeling very nourished. And on top of it all a terrific concert last night with the very beautiful Mass in C (Beethoven) brilliantly conducted by Rufus Frowde. If that wasn’t enough, I had a ball playing Mozart’s Concerto for basset clarinet. I’d like to offer serious thanks to Joseph Sanders, John Kelsey, Diane Terry and especially to John Irving – each one of you made a significant contribution to that performance.
Thanks to Steven Devine, Katrina and Dick Burnett and to the ‘behind the scenes’ team (Alastair for tuning and Graeme for supper) at Finchcoks. We loved playing for you in the beautiful hall. Such a perfect setting for period chamber music!
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!
Very 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)’.
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!
February 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….
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.