28 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!
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….
19 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.
4 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.
27 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.
October 3 2013
Really looking forward to my first concert with Arcangelo, the brainchild of conductor Jonathan Cohen. Our soloist tonight will be the very poetic Kris Bezuidenhout playing Beethoven’s 4th and Mozart’s 17th Piano Concertos. Tucked into the first half is a new piece for me, Myslivicek’s Concertino No1 in E flat. It turns out to be a very lovely concertante work full of virtuosic flair for all the wind players. Our setting is the very beautiful church at Tetbury packed full of music lovers. Off we go………
28 August-2 September
A great privilege to be working once again with Sir Roger Norrington whose inspiring work with the OAE stretches back decades. Roger absolutely revels in the sounds and colours that these instruments make and in this programme – toured to Warsaw and Helsinki – the centrepiece was the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. Special instruments demanded in this work include E flat clarinet, cor anglais, ophecleides – a feast of musical colour expressing musical emotion laid bare. At least one of the instruments came out of a museum specially for the occasion.
12 August 2013
Thrilled to be returning so soon to the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival for a concert of Piano and Winds Quintets by Mozart and Beethoven. Many thanks to Jamie Walton for the invitation and to friends of the festival for their wonderful hospitality.
This turned out to be a rather special concert – and not just for the opportunity to play with colleagues Dan Bates, Gavin Edwards and Ursula Leveaux. This was the inaugural concert for a recently-completed fortepiano by local maker Johannes Secker. The instrument is based on one from south Germany in the 1780s and was completed just up the hill from the magical St Oswald’s church in Lythe. It handled the Mozart and Beethoven pieces in fine fashion and I eagerly await another opportunity to hear it.
Much of June and July is taken up with the Falstaff run at Glyndebourne, but one variation for me is a fascinating weekend conference on Mechanical Musical Instruments held at the Guildhall School and organised by my doctoral student, Emily Baines. Emily’s D.Mus subject looks at what surviving mechanical clocks and barrel organs from the eighteenth century can tell us about principles of ornamentation in the music of Handel and his contemporaries. Her conference attracted delegates from eleven different countries across four continents and was an enormous success. Keynote speakers were the pioneer author on this area, Arthur Ord-Hume and Professor Peter Holman. Emily contributed a magnificent concert featuring her work on ornamentation and gathering together a range of current and past Guildhall students. Altogether a superb event!
19 May 2013
It’s been a few years since I last played with the OAE at Glyndebourne and it’s a great pleasure to be back in this amazing place for the first night in a run of Verdi’s Falstaff conducted by Sir Mark Elder.
Terrific singing and playing by all, with the OAE stepping outside its comfort zone in challenging repertoire for expansive forces – a large-scale operation. I was particularly proud of the way the OAE wind section rose to the challenge – a splendid first night!