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|Sunday 16th February 7.30pm
Tim Kliphuis Sextet
Tim Kliphuis & Seonaid Aitken, violins
Liam Lynch viola Su-a Lee cello
Nigel Clark guitar Roy Percy bass
"The Brandenburg Seasons”
A powdered wig and a Musical Saw!
On Sunday night, Storm Dennis blew Johann Sebastian Bach’s best wig away.
Dutch violinist, Tim Kliphuis, and his Trio snatched hold of one of the Brandenberg Concertos and with a few confident chords they were off on a fantastical, kaleidoscopic musical journey, mixing styles, mixing rhythms, at turns playful or sentimental, sad or strident, glorying in their rhythmic virtuosity, relishing the sweetness of the violin’s tone, exploring the guitar’s timbre, and responding to the rhythm of that double bass, as it was bowed, slapped and plucked by Roy Percy in his own inimitable style.
Tim Kliphuis is a classical violinist; he is a gypsy violinist, he is a folk fiddler and he’s a jazz violinist after Stephane Grappelli’s heart. Nigel Clark plays the guitar as though he was the love child of Django Reinhardt and Segovia, and no-one plays the double bass, classical or jazz, like Roy Percy. They were imaginatively supported by three leading Scottish string players, Su-A Lee on cello, Liam Lynch on Viola, and Seonaid Aitken on violin.
And the music they played ran the gamut from Vivaldi to Piazzolla and Duke Ellington. Everything was transformed. The baroque became jazz became gypsy became Scottish dance. It was a dazzling display by musicians who knew music backwards and gloried in its variety and vitality.
And, at the end, Johann Sebastian danced a jig, shouted “Bravo!” and threw his second-best wig in the air.
As a reward Tim and co. played the sweetest, most delicate version of Richard Strauss’s Morgen that you could ever wish to hear. A wonderful concert.
The Keswick Music Society’s next concert will feature music by Elgar and will be played by pianist Martin Roscoe – one of our favourite pianists - with the internationally famous Brodsky Quartet on Sunday March 22nd at Theatre by the Lake.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Tim Kliphuis Trio had given a Family Concert, showing the same combination of irresistible energy, enthusiasm, humour and musical virtuosity. With the help of the large audience and with simpler versions of some of the same music as the evening concert they charmed the parents and children, many having come from a distance for half-term, and involved them in providing supporting backing to the music – ages ranging from low teens to a four month old who was clearly intrigued by the rhythms. The unique mix of Classical and Jazz also featured a Musical Saw (a really big one, bought in Holland) from which, with no more than a cello bow, Su-A Lee miraculously conjured a most beautiful and haunting arrangement of Moon River, to general amazement.
The Keswick Music Society’s tradition of arranging Family Concerts to encourage children’s love of classical music was praised by a member of the audience who was heard reminiscing about the late well-known Keswickian Joan Sparey, one of the Society’s founders, who first introduced him to music way back in the 50’s.
Review by Steve Matthews
|Wednesday 12th February 7.00pm
Local Young Musicians' Concert
On Wednesday February 12th a full house of parents and siblings were treated to a most enjoyable evening – a concert given by the young musicians of Keswick with the support of the Keswick Music society. Pupils in an age range from Junior schools to Keswick School produced a really impressive programme of instrumental and vocal performances – the solo pieces for piano, violin, voice, saxophone, guitar, and combinations of these, were a pleasure to listen to and showed the dedicated practice and love of music which is being encouraged at all levels. There were larger instrumental groups: a String Quartet, Guitar Group, Guitar Ensemble, and a self motivated Boys’ Violin Sextet, all demonstrating impressive musicality, ensemble and accurate intonation, while the Keswick School String Ensembles both Senior and Junior, the Wind Band, and the Skiddaw Strings reached a higher level of performance than ever. The most unusual item was the St Herbert’s Hand Bell Ringers, whose young performers showed intense concentration and musicality: the sound of their unusual instruments was especially enjoyed by the audience in their arrangement of Over the Rainbow. The music staff and the peripatetic teachers of all schools involved are to be congratulated on the high standards and evident enthusiasm of all the young players and singers.
Review by Mary Cooke
|Sunday 5th January 2020 7.30pm
Jonathan Radford saxophone
Ashley Fripp piano
Debussy: Prélude á l’aprčs-midi d’un faune
Schumann: Violin Sonata no.1 op.105
Bernstein: West Side Story suite
Yoshimatsu: Fuzzy Bird sonata for alto saxophone and piano
Piazzolla: Histoire du Tango
Gershwin: Three Preludes
An appreciative audience at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake was treated to a lovely concert last Sunday by the brilliant young saxophone player Jonathan Radford and his gifted accompanist Ashley Fripp on the piano, a combination of instruments that doesn’t readily come to mind in the classical sphere, but we needn’t have worried.
From the first notes of Debussy’s enchanting “L’Apres Midi d’un Faune” we knew we were in for something special as the haunting timbres of the solo saxophone evoked the faune’s awakening in the shifting sunlight of a leafy glade. The tone Jonathan conjures from his instrument is so mellow that if you shut your eyes you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a flute, or to a melody on a single church organ pipe. The sensitive interweaving with Ashley’s piano, both delicate and energetic, provided a quite magical start to the concert.
Slightly less successful for me was the second work, a transcription of Schumann’s “first sonata for piano and violin”. Not because the playing wasn’t good … it was very good indeed and was perfectly complemented by Ashley’s command of the romantic piano style. But it is not a very memorable or characteristic work. Indeed, Schumann himself wasn’t overly happy with it, and promptly wrote a second violin sonata within a month.
The final work of the first half however was a great success, Bernstein’s “West Side Story suite”. This provided the players with plenty of opportunities to showcase their technical talents and demonstrate their command of a very different genre in bringing to life Bernstein’s classic dance numbers.
The second half started with the “Fuzzy Bird sonata” by the Japanese composer Yoshimatsu. This was new music for almost the entire audience. It might be a challenge to play, but not to listen to when in the hands of these musicians. Jonathan coaxed an amazing variety of sounds and tones from his saxophone, all within a most musical delivery of complex rhythmic interplays with the piano … Ashley here again demonstrating what a fine pianist he is in his own right, as well as being an exceptional accompanist.
The concert concluded with Piazzola’s “L’histoire du Tango” and then Three Preludes by Gershwin, both very beautifully played. The audience hadn’t had enough so these were followed by an encore of a miniature by Faure, perfectly mirroring the opening work of the concert and sending us home knowing we’d heard quite some exceptional music-making from two very gifted young musicians. What an excellent concert to start the new year … skillful, musical, expressive playing and such a lovely, varied programme. We look forward to future concerts brought to you by Keswick Music Society.
|Sunday 8th December 2019 7.30pm
Gitarrissima of Vienna
Olga Dimitrova octave guitar
Réka Mihalovics-Zottmann, Antonina Ovchinnikova
and Katarina Maric concert guitars
Maksim Jablocnik acoustic bass guitar
A Christmas Celebration Programme
Bizet: 4 Pieces from Carmen Suite
Andrew York: African Suite: Bantu
Shingo Fujii: Rhapsody Japan: Furusato
Copland: Hoe Down from Ballet Suite Rodeo
Gershwin: Porgy & Bess: Potpourri
Shostakovich: Tahiti Trot
Jazz Suite No.1: Waltz No.2
Tchaikovsky: 3 Pieces from Ballet Suite: Swan Lake
4 Pieces from Ballet Suite: The Nutcracker
A large and appreciative audience at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake was treated to a delightful concert last Sunday by the all-woman, five-guitar ensemble, Gitarrissima of Vienna. Wearing glorious scarlet and playing three normal-sized guitars, one smaller octave guitar and one larger classical bass guitar this was a programme of joyful music-making for the Christmas Season.
The concert started with Rossini’s Barber of Seville overture, played with great gusto and technical precision. This was followed by some very imaginative arrangements of six movements from Tchaikovsy’s great ballet scores: Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Highlights included the wonderful use of harmonics in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the great variety of tone and dynamics used to convey the moods of the different pieces, and the way the group displayed great musicianship as the famous melodies were seamlessly passed from one player to the next.
The first half ended with a medley of numbers from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, showing off Gitarrissima’s facility across different genres and included a most sensitive and poignant arrangement of Summertime.
The second half opened with a special extra … arrangements of four Seasonal numbers including Rudolf, Jingle Bells and a Hungarian Christmas folksong. Next came something different again; Bantu, by Andrew York. This started off with all the players tapping the African cross-rhythms on the bodies of their guitars before the melodies came in. In fact, across the concert we got to hear a variety of amazing effects on the guitars … hitting the strings, drumming rhythms on the guitar’s body, sliding the fingers over the strings, using tremelos (fast repeated notes) to sound like long sustained notes, glissandos and harmonics … all to great effect.
Next up were excepts from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayaneh, including the famous Sabre Dance, and the concert ended with a suite of Thracian Dances by the Bulgarian composer Stainov. These were again played with great sensitivity and spirit, sending us all home with a smile on our faces and a spring in our steps.
The group clearly love bringing their expertise on the guitar to a wide spectrum of music, and that came across strongly in a highly enjoyable performance of excellent music-making by five very fine musicians.
If you enjoyed hearing Jess Gillam a couple of years ago, the next Keswick Music Society concert will certainly appeal. It’s on Sunday 5 January 2020 at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick and features the exceptional young British saxophonist Jonathan Radford, accompanied by gifted pianist Ashley Fripp playing original compositions for the sax and arrangements of classical favourites. Tickets are available from Theatre by the Lake, and half-season tickets from keswick-music-society.org.uk
|Sunday 10th November 2019 7.30pm
Henry Roberts flute Luba Tunnicliffe viola
Oliver Wass harp
Bax: Elegiac Trio
Mussorgsky: Selections from Pictures at an Exhibition
Richard Bissill: Twisted Elegy
Gershwin: A Foggy Day/Love Walked In
Couperin: Trio Sonata Selections
Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin arr. Jocelyn Morlock
A large and appreciative audience at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake was treated to a lovely concert last Sunday by the Pelleas Ensemble. Comprising Luba Tunnicliffe (Viola); Oliver Wass (Harp) and Henry Roberts (Flute), this was music-making of very high quality indeed.
The varied and thoughtful programme gave each of the musicians the opportunity to showcase their own technical and musical skills, in the context of exceptional ensemble playing. Impressively they all played from memory for much of the concert, which clearly allows them to focus on communicating musically with each other, and with the listeners.
Appropriately for Remembrance Sunday the concert started with Bax’s Elegiac Trio, composed during the Great War but using languid folk-inspired melodies to hark back to a more peaceful era. This featured some beautifully judged interplay between the delicate flute and the glorious tone from the viola.
Next was Oliver Wass playing his own arrangements for harp of some movements from the original piano score of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and drawing to a degree on Ravel’s orchestrations. This was played with technical brilliance and great interpretation, leaving some of us wanting the whole arc of the work rather than just the movements selected.
The first half ended with a very accessible modern work, Twisted Elegy by Richard Bissell. It looks back to British chamber music of the 20th century and is full of dreamy melodic passages interspersed with more agitated sections, and with the trio’s committed and communicative playing this work really should find a regular place in the concert repertoire.
Showing their versatility and musicality across different genres, the second half opened with a delightful and characterful arrangement of Gershwin’s Foggy Day/Love Walked In.
Then came a trio sonata by Couperin. This was originally scored for harpsichord continuo, but to this modern listener it sounded much more interesting with a harp providing great variety of tone and mood in support of the brilliant interweaving of the flute and violin, which Luba played equally impressively in this work.
The juxtaposition of this with the final work in the concert; Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin was imaginative programming. As well as looking back to the baroque era, in each of the five movements Ravel creates musical portraits of friends who had fallen in the Great War. And whilst these are usually heard as a piano solo, or in Ravel’s own full orchestra version, the Pelleas Ensemble showed they work particularly well as trio arrangements, with the individuals’ characters being brought out with playing of great sensitivity and precise interplay in the different movements.
The trio clearly love playing music together and sharing their enjoyment of a wide spectrum of music, and that came across strongly in a performance of delightful music-making by three very fine young musicians who we can expect to hear more of in the future.
|Sunday 20th October 2019 7.30pm
Katya Apekisheva piano
Mozart: Sonata in F K 280
Grieg: The Brook
Janacek: Piano Sonata 1905
Schubert: Six Moments Musicales
Rachmaninov: Two Etudes Tableaux op. 39 no. 6 and no. 9
A large and enthusiastic audience were delighted by the programme of piano music given by Katya Apekisheva in the Theatre by the Lake for Keswick Music Society last Sunday evening.
A varied programme of contrasting works enabled Katya to exhibit her considerable technical keyboard skills as well as to display a wide range of dynamics and styles of piano writing.
Mozart’s relatively early sonata in F, K 280, was one of the first written for the fortepiano, with its much greater dynamic range than the harpsichord and its richer sonority in the bass register. Katya brought out the contrasts in Mozart’s music, ranging from the majestic to the sorrowful, in the forceful climaxes compared with her very delicate playing of the quietest sections.
Janacek’s two-movement Sonata, dating from 1905, followed. The composer destroyed the original manuscript, however, a copy was kept by a local Czeck pianist and published in 1924. The first movement is ominously labelled Presentiment and the second, Death, both of which require plenty of very intense piano-playing, although it ends very quietly, at the foot of the grave of a young man killed in a riot.
The first half ended on a lighter note, with three of Grieg’s piano pieces, namely The Brook, The Lonely Wanderer and Carnival Scene, played with great accuracy and delicacy.
The second half opened with the six ‘Moments musicaux’, D 780, by Schubert, written towards the end of his short life, based on dances and songs of the time. They have been described as creating a ‘warm, bucolic atmosphere’, evoking everyday life in Vienna in the 1820s. Katya brought out the contrasts between the major and minor key pieces splendidly.
Two Etudes Tableaux (study pictures) by Rachmaninoff followed and these formed a complete contrast to the other works in the programme. These were the last pieces which the composer wrote before emigrating from Russia to America. As one critic has pointed out, “these are beautifully crafted aural paintings, full of rich colours and evanescent harmonies” in which Katya’s interpretations brought out Rachmaninoff’s rich and varied harmonies and mastery of tone colours of the piano, to great effect.
As an encore, Katya played Scarlatti’s single-movement and baroquely cheerful Sonata in G minor.
Review by Mike Town
|Sunday 29th September 2019 7.30pm
European Union Chamber Orchestra
Alessandro Ruisi Leader/Director
George Todica piano
Britten: Simple Symphony
Faure: Nocturne for strings op.57
Mozart: Piano concerto no. 12 in A major K414
Mozart: Divertimento in F K138
Grieg: Two Elegiac Melodies Op.34
Bartok: Rumanian Dances
The opening concert of Keswick Music Society’s 72nd season provided a feast of high octane string playing from the youthful and highly gifted European Union Chamber Orchestra. Directed with disciplined flair from the first desk by Alessandro Ruisi the band of thirteen immediately captured the spirit of Britten’s Simple Symphony – crisp articulation in the fast movements, suitable sentiment in the slow movement and commendably accurate pizzicato in the playful movement – a tricky number, not at all simple! The Frolicsome Finale was a tour de force with impressive climaxes and extrovert outbursts – when it was repeated as an encore at the end of the concert hair seemed to have been let down even further.
A gentle Nocturne by Fauré transported us to two works by Mozart. First came the Piano Concerto in A K.414 in which the soloist was the young Romanian pianist George Todica who clearly has an intimate rapport with Mozart. This was chamber music par excellence - the players simply enjoyed themselves listening and responding to each other in the most civilized way, underpinned by secure musicianship. We just eavesdropped, fortunate to savour the magic of Mozart.
The Divertimento in F K.138 started the second half – a delightful performance of Mozart in entertaining mode. Immaculate phrasing in the quick movements and plenty of tonal support from the middle parts in the Andante made all the difference to this enticing music.
Grieg’s Elegiac Melodies are meant to pull the heart strings and no one could have been disappointed with the EUCO’s attempt to do just that. From the first wistful strains suggesting a wounded heart this was playing of great sensitivity. Grieg’s seductive melodies drew the best from these young performers – in particular the expansive climax in Last Spring was a highlight of the concert. The evening ended in the plains of Hungary with Bartok’s Romanian Dances – originally music of unsophisticated people but now translated to concert halls around the globe. Fortunately we had the best of both worlds – fine string playing with a good dose of humour and wild spirits.
Review by John Upson