Monday, 22 August 2011

Chris Caldwell - and Chris Gradwell - both play Clarinet on Sunday evening 28 August


There are two excellent concerts involving clarinet this Sunday. However, only people with their own transport will be able to see both.

'Music On The Edge' - Flautist Susie Hodder-Williams and Bass Clarinettist Chris Caldwell
photo: Chris Chapman  http://www.chrischapmanphotography.com/

Chris Caldwell will be playing clarinets and saxophones with flautist Susie Hodder-Williams at the opening of Deborah Wood's new 'Art Room' in Topsham - and the opening or her first exhibition, of the paintings and sculptures of Peter Thursby (details). Their concert will be from 6-7pm

Chris and Susie play a sumptious programme of baroque and classical music - plus many modern pieces and compositions of their own. Their recitals are always worth hearing and £10 admissions includes food and wine

Come and join us for a glass of wine for the opening of the new gallery in Topsham. 

This performance  will feature works by Bach, Benjamin Britten and Philip Glass along with unique improvisations inspired by the sculptures of Peter Thursby

6pm -7pm 
£10 including wine 

The new gallery will be on the Strand at Topsham, close to the museum, car parks, Goat Walk and Antique Centre: 
8a, The Strand, Topsham EX3 OJB
www.theartroomtopsham.co.uk/About.html



Chris Gradwell and Friends
Mike Thorn, Andrew Daldorph, Chris, Andrew Barrett

Just half an hour later Chris Gradwell will be playing clarinet and saxophones with pianist Andrew Daldorph, guitarist Andrew Barrett and double bass player Mike Thorn at the third 'Chris Gradwell and Friends' jazz concert at Kennaway House in Sidmouth.

Under the title 'Music Deco' the jazz quartet will accompany soprano Kate Walker from Tavistock. A great evening in the basement of this beautiful historic building - with bar!
 

Chris Gradwell & Friends

Date: 28 August 2011 19:30 to 22:00

Join Chris Gradwell, Andrew Daldorph and Kate Walker
in a cabaret evening of jazz

Tickets £7 at the door.
Doors open 6.45pm, show starts at 7.30pm.



Friday, 19 August 2011

David Cottam Lunchtime Concert of Guitar Music at Exeter Central Library Tuesday 16th August

A familiar face in the music room - guitarist David Cottam
As part of the Exeter Guitar Festival, guitarist David Cottam from Sandford gave a recital at Exeter Central Library. Upstairs in the music room, he played twenty beautiful pieces, all either composed or arranged by David himself.

Incredible dexterity and delicacy
'Ivory Tower': dedicated to David's student from Sarajevo, a very sweet, soft and lyrical piece
'Caprice for Maša': apparently Maša only likes sad pieces - so this was a sad caprice, but with a soft caressing sound
'Zebra Music': zebra is the trade name of David's compositions for students, this study combined a steady bass rhythm with a contrastingly complex treble melody
'Willow Pattern': a little piece of 'Chinoiserie' - mock chinese music - very sweet
'Campanella': played across the rather than up and down the fretboard, like playing the piano - simple but effective
'Chimes for St Swithun': a beautiful impression of the bells of Sandford Parish Church
'Music for Skye': composed for the naming ceremony of David's sister's adopted daughter, the bass and treble are in different time signatures, giving the effect of a small child (or indeed teenager) out of step with an adult
'Le Rayon Vert': ('the green ray') is the last flash of light seen after a Mediterranean sunset - a miniscule soft harmonic to finish - followed immediately by
'Vampires': a tale of the macabre with agressive staccato chords and light flourishes like scurrying rats ending with ominous harmonics
'The Train to Cochabamba': the chugging of a Bolivian steam train is represented by chords on deadened string, before breaking into a complex combination of harmonics, arpeggios and slurs - "ching ching!"
'Craigie Hill': a little Gaelic treat based on a tune overheard on the radio
'Arietta with Variations': something classical, Joseph Küffner composed the original in Würzburg in the early nineteenth century - when Beethoven was working in Vienna. Every guitarist plays this piece and David's embellishments were quite magical. The entire audience held their breath for the mesmerising harmonic version.
'Comillas' & 'Santillana': more zebra music - dances inspired by spanish villages, with a warm Mediterranean feel
'Flamenquita': representing a 'flamenco groupie', a flashy and exciting piece.
'Fantasy on The Water is Wide': the big piece of the programme, starting with slow gentle rippling, developing into a rich mellow sound with tremolo reminiscent of Francisco Tárrega's 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra', and once atain a gorgeous harmonic section.
'After Julio': a quite straightforward piece by early twentieth century Argentine composer Julio Sagreras arranged by David to make it much more exciting and interesting - with very sweet trills and song themes.
'Rhapsody': composed for the 100th birthday of Edith Molesworthy (who still enjoyed motorbikes and malt whisky). David was starting to struggle with his injured hand but the struggle was worth it as he created a sultry dance full of soft seductive arpeggios and very complex runs up the fretboard - and back down again
'Myosotis': means 'Forget-Me-Not' but sounds like 'myositis' (inflammation of the muscles) which is appropriate as it was this piece which was mainly responsible for David's hand problems - working out how to play the frets with fingers and thumb simultaneously put a lot of strain on his muscles and joints (see below) but the result was sublime
A new technique - all four fingers, and thumb, work the frets
In response to enthusiastic applause, David played one encore
'Gardens in the Rain': takes its name from Debussy's well known piano work, but is quite different - beautiful and with something for every finger to do at all times. This piece is always popular and was requested for the 'Classical Journey' last week.

Regular listeners will know that Tuesday's concert was played on a guitar hand-made by Crediton luthier Shaun Newman using Honduran rosewood for the back and side panels. As Honduran rosewood is now protected, this is a very rare instrument indeed. Shaun himself was there to hear it in action, and will be selling the guitar from his Crediton Workshop: http://www.shaunnewmanguitars.co.uk/
Before too long we hope to hear Shaun on the 'Classical Journey' again for a feature on his latest project - the reconstruction of a mediaeval Gittern, which we may be able to get David to play for the programme.

Tuesday's recital in the music room was recorded by Mike Gluyas and we hope to be able to play a few sample tracks on 'Classical Journey' soon. David is also working on another album of guitar and 'cello music with Hilary Boxer of the Beare Trio, also featuring Shaun's wonderful rosewood guitar . . .

Stay tuned!


Clive Betts in Concert at Wonford House Chapel Monday 5th September


Clive and guitar 2010
Guitarist Clive Betts - Playing at Wonford Chapel on Monday 5th September

On Tuesday's show we heard several guitar pieces from spain and the new world played by local guitarist Clive Betts. Clive will be giving a live performance at Wonford House Hospital Chapel on the RD&E hosptal site on Monday 5 September at 12.30pm. Admission is free for patients, and the concert is open to the public at very reasonable prices (£2.50 for service users, £4.50 for hospital staff, £6 for members of the public).

Admission includes lunch which will be served at 12 noon - in the billiards room!

Clive will play music from several different countries:

Catalunya: Spanish Ballad
Cuba: Guantanamera
Mexico: The Hat Dance

Brazil: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Prelude No.1 in E minor
Prelude No.4 in E minor
Prelude No.2 in E major

Spain: Francesco Tárrega
Lagrima
Recuerdos de la Alhambra
La Musica Cajita

Catalunya: Miguel Llobet
El Testament D’Amelia
Canço del Lladre
El Noi de la Mare

Mexico: Manuel Ponce
Estrellita                          

Venezuela: Antonio Lauro
El Negrito
Vals Venezuelano No.3 


Come and enjoy the wonderful international sound of the classical guitar.
  
Also in the Studio on Tuesday was the man responsible for the chapel concerts.
Henry Dunn is a music therapist at Exeter's NHS Creative Therapies Unit ('The Briars', Crabb Lane, EXETER, EX2 9JD - 01392 221241)

Henry is an accomplished musician - pianist, clarinettist and saxophonist. He is also an expert in the therapeutic benefits of music, both as a means of communication - as used in his therapy sessions, and as a means of reducing stress generally and preventing its damaging side-effects.

He has organised the Wonford concerts in addition to his work for the NHS and has more concerts lined up for October and November this year. To find out more, email Henry (henry.dunn@nhs.net) or visit his website;


Information about Clive's concerts and recordings:

Victoria and King James at Mamhead

Lovers of Renaissance music and The King James Bible may like to
wend their way to St Thomas Church, Mamhead on August 27th. 

 
St Michael's singers from Exeter will be giving a concert in celebration
of the 400th anniversary of the death of the Spanish composer
Victoria, and there will be readings from the King James Bible to
celebrate the 400th anniversary of its publication. 

 
More modern church music will be included on the theme "Angels and Saints", and there
will be interludes of organ music. 

 
The concert starts at 7.30pm, and tickets are £5.
 
Details and bookings Mike McDonald 01626 891 245

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A new artist's exhibition at Topsham's new Art Room with Chris Caldwell and Susie Hodder-Williams - 'Music in the Art Room' Sunday 28 August 6pm

Deborah Wood is reopening her Art Room in Topsham at its new location - on Topsham Strand. Her first exhibition will be of paintings, sculpture & drawings by Peter Thursby. In keeping with recent exhibitions in the old gallery in Fore Street, 'Music on the Edge' will perform live music at the public opening of Peter's exhibition.

27th August to 25th September:
An exceptional exhibitionof work by outstanding 20th Century British Artist Peter Thursby, Fellow of the Royal Society of Sculptors and past President of the Royal West of England Academy.

Sunday 28th August 6pm - 7pm
Music Recital by 'Music on the Edge'
Susie Hodder-Williams (flute) and
Chris Caldwll (clarinet and saxes)
Johann Sebastian Bach
Benjamin Britten
Philip Glass
and improvisations inspired by
the sculptures of Peter Thursby
£10 including wine, booking essential

Sunday 4th September 6pm
Gallery Talk by artist Graham Rich
Free entry - booking essential

THE ART ROOM
8a The Strand Topsham EX3 0JB
Open weekends 11am - 5pm
Monday & Wednesday 1pm - 5pm

Monday, 15 August 2011

School's Out!

Listeners may have noticed that, apart from the summer festivals - and the Dartington Summer School of course, there are very few concerts going on in Devon. We can look forward to more when everyone gets back from holiday.

One person who is giving one of his rare concerts is guitarist David Cottam. He will be at the Exeter Central Library music room right after this week's 'Classical Journey', at 1.30pm on Tuesday.

David will be 'borrowing' one of Crediton Luthier Shaun Newman's hand-made guitars for the concert. The beautiful instrument is made with one of the very last panels of Honduran rosewood - a very rare instrument. After the concert the instrument will be returned for sale, so this is a one-off opportunity to hear this combination of man and instrument.

Anyone interested in buying the guitar - or ordering one to their own specifications - can contact Shaun at this workshop in Crediton (01363 774416) or visit his website http://www.shaunnewmanguitars.co.uk/

Tomorrow's lunchtime concert won't quite be a one-off. Last week David took the guitar to Mike Gluyas' recording studios (where he has been recording a new album with 'cellist Hilary Boxer) and joined some other 'off-duty' musicians for some impromptu music making. Mike's wife Wendy kept up the party spirit with drinks and food, while Mike kept the microphones running - and possibly picked up a few more gems!

David Cottam and Shaun Newman's rosewood guitar
(it's the back panel that's rosewood, by the way)

Playing one of his own compositions

Visiting Dutch pianist Fred Gest
joins in on keyboard

. . . and is joined by the bass voice of Patrick Taylor
in a rousing Schumann song lampooning the Kaiser

. . . and the tenor voice of baroque violinist
and music lecturer Peter Alsopp
(formerly Exeter University, now Beijing)
in Tosti's 'worst ever' song

. . . and Phonic FM presenter Lily Neal
playing the modern fiddle

Patrick takes over with a medley of his own

Peter Alsopp demonstrates his technique
on a 'modern' violin - only 100 years old
(His baroque fiddle is now four centuries old)
David Cottam's recital will be at 1.30pm tomorrow, 16 August, in the music room of Exeter Central Library. Tickets £10 (concessions £8).

Listen out for David on tomorrow's 'Classical Journey' when he will give details of his programme of pieces some time between 10 and 11am.

Details of all Guitar Festival concerts at www.exeguitarfestival.com

Later in the show two other guitarists, Clive Betts and Henry Dunn, will appear on the show to discuss a concert series starting in Wonford Chapel in September.

Next week we shall have Dutch concert pianist Fred Gest as our special guest on the Classical Journey, from 10am till 12 on Tuesday 23 August.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Music for Brass, Organ and Choir St Margaret's Church Topsham Saturday 23 July

Just a quick word about a delightful choral concert in Topsham last Saturday.
St Margaret's Church Choir sang a range of baroque anthems and songs, from Thomas Tallis' 'If ye love me keep my commandments' to Ralph Waghan Williams' 'Old 100th'. (Audience participation please!) The audience also participated in the final number - Handel's mighty 'Hallelujah Chorus'.

Interspersed were some gems of baroque trumpet, played by two members of the Devon Brass Ensemble, Geoff Cloke and Paul Thomas. The concert opened with Charpentier's Trumpet Tune from the 'Te Deum', which was closely followed by a baroque concerto by Petronio Franceschini. The second half also opened with a baroque concerto for two trumpets by Francesco Manfredini. Paul gave a beautiful solo perfromance of David Ogden's 'Christ has no body' and Geoff followed that with Bach's 'Wachet auf'

Everything was held together by the organ playing of Robert Millington, who also gave a solo performance - of Henri Mulet's 'Tu es Petras'.

The choir, although small in numbers, sang with spirit under the direction of their conductor Tony Yeates. The last word must go to Tony, who wrote this open letter to the 'Classical Journey' singing the praises of the singers.


Exemplary Concert

Last night's concert with Geoff, Paul and Bob was so good that it was a good example of what a parish choir ought to be. The unaccompanied items were sensitively sung, in tune and with clear diction. "God is a spirit" was specially mentioned by several people I spoke to afterwards. With Bob's excellent accompaniment we achieved buoyancy in "Thou visitest" and both style and power in "Blessed be the God". Bob's French organ piece was a tour de force. You're not likely to hear it from me! The trumpets added extra sparkle to the evening: it was great to hear two Baroque concertos for two trumpets. "Old 100th" and "Hallelujah" were terrific culminations of each half, with excellent audience participation. Very many thanks to all who took part and more thank to everyone who helped with refreshments.
Put 17th September in your diaries now: Paul Morgan, with us singing four big 20th century anthems. Do come on Sunday mornings through the summer - 9-30 for 10 a.m.
Thanks again. - Tony Y.



Paul Thomas
Geoff Cloke


Robert Millington

Tony Yeates conducts St Margaret's Church Choir

Among the tenors - woodwind player Philip Henry

Budleigh Festival: The Honeymead Quartet

Returning after the April concert series, which ended at Exeter Cathedral on 16 April this year, the Honeymead Ensemble gave a special concert at the Budleigh Festival on Monday 25 July.

Still lacking one player - as the result of a family bereavement just before the April tour - the group played their alternate repertoire of quartets and quintets.


Schuberts's Quartettsatz in C minor was followed by Glazunov's Quintet in A. In the second half we enjoyed more Schubert - Quintet in C.

The appearance of conductor Robert Max, playing the 'cello with extraordinary gusto, complemented the superb playing of all the instrumentalists.

An intensely engaging concert of music, visually and acoustically stunning. Yet another example of the amazing talent that is engaged for the Budleigh Festival.

Thank you to all concerned!

First Violin Tamsin Waley-Cohen

Viola Sarah-Jane Bradley

Second Violin Sophie Jane Lockett
Cello Ollie Coates


Cello Robert Max


Big applause - modestly received


Bethany Partridge at Budleigh Festival

Supremely expressive soprano Bethany Partridge
Regular 'Classical Journey' listeners will be familiar with the dazzling voice of soprano, and now Cambridge undergraduate, Bethany Partridge. She has performed at Broadclyst 'Coffee and Music' mornings, not only singing but playing sweet 'cello music as well. Thanks to the efforts of her father Michael, we have recordings of her lovely music to enjoy on local community radio.
More recently we have been able to hear her performances with the East Devon Choral Society at their Derufle Requiem concert last year. (Recorded at the time by Mike Gluyas, but not on general release until recently.)

At Temple Church in Budleigh on Tuesday 26 July, as part of the Budleigh Festival, Bethany gave a stunning song recital accompanied by another familiar young musician Alex West.


Rising piano star Alex West
Alex is a Cambridge graduate (maths - good lad!) now working for the Meteorological Office here in Exeter and building his experience and repertoire on the piano and organ.

Beautifully dressed in red and white Bethany walked onto the stage with perfect poise and showed her true form immediately with an aria from Handel's 'Messiah'. 'Rejoice Greatly' was an incredible start - no warm up needed. Alex also got straight into the passion of the piece, filling the hall with his deft piano accompaniment.

Anyone who has seen Bethany perform knows that she doesn't just sing beautifully, she introduces her songs very eloquently as well. Her speaking is very clear and always relaxed - despite being exposed to the gaze of the many-headed! That's a very special ability for any performer.

And what she introduced was another great Christian aria - 'Zerfliesse
Mein Herze' ('My Heart Melts Away') from Bach's St John Passion. The opening passage by Alex on the piano was intensely emotional and Bethany's performance, singing in German entirely from memory, was beautifully coloured by her genuine emotion. 'Jesus ist tot' really conveyed Bach's intentions.

Having captured our hearts with sadness, Bethany turned to love. Three love songs by Brahms, Strauss and Schumann, sung with impressive maturity. Then Bethany returned to a serious Christian topic with Mozart's Mass in C minor (unfinished, as she succinctly explained). The 'Laudamus Te' was incredibly complex, but well withing Bethany's abilities. Alex played her into each section with great feeling and finished the aria with a great piano flourish.

Speaking of Mozart, it was time for an aria from one of the master's 'opere buffe'. 'Una Donna a Quindici Anni' ('A Girl of Fifteen') from 'Cosi fan Tutte' (~'Everbody's doing it!') gave Bethany an oportunity to show the impish side of her nature - perfectly delivered in Italian, of course - but read from a score, which somehow found its way into position without anyone noticing!

Ernest Chausson's 'Colibri' ('Hummingbird') is very different from the frenzied, but sad, guitar impression by Julio Sagreras. This piece is deeply sorrowful but also very gentle with a very slow and plaintive piano opening dying away to make room for Bethany's open and drawn out words. The ending was slow and full of love.

Staying in France Bethany performed two short songs by Francis Poulenc. 'Air Champetre' ('Pastoral Air') was short and punchy, while 'Fleurs' ('Flowers') was slow again.

Finally, an established favourite, Gounod's 'Je Veux Vivre - dans ce reve qui m'enivre' ('I want to live - in this dream which intoxicates me') from 'Romeo and Juliet'. This was a hit at Broadclyst, and has been played many times on the 'Journey'. Bethany, as Juliet, scaled the heights of passion in her performance, ably accompanied by Alex on the piano - right up to the top, top note - amazing.

In the past Bethany has repeated 'Je Veux Vivre' as an encore - to the delight of the audience. Not this time. Alex and Bethany returned to amaze us with Roger Quilter's setting of Percy Shelley's 'Love's Philosophy', a delightful piece, not as passionate as 'Je Veux Vivre', but just as beautiful.

A perfect recital. And, as a bonus, Bethany's father Michael was on hand again to record all. Given a little time for editing, we should be able to share more of Bethany's wonderful music on community radio!


An exciting visitor from Lisse in the Netherlands
concert pianist and singing coach Fred Gest
Bethany will soon be going to Trinity College Cambridge to study music - and sing with the choir - but before that she will be appearing at 'Proms 2011' (The World's Greatest Classical Music Festival!) on Friday 5 August with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain in Mahler's Second Symphony ('Resurrection') with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Marion's performance of 'Mahler 2' at Exeter Cathedral with the EMG Symphony Orchestra and soloists Cathering Hamilton and Alison Kettlewell was utterly awe-inspiring and leaves us in no doubt about how wonderful this concert will be. (Best seats - £55!)

We really do have the very best acts at the Budleigh Festival. And - guess what? Admission was free! We really are blessed here in Devon!

Alexandra Dariescu at Budleigh Festival

A Romanian piano sensation: Alexandra Dariescu

Is there no end to the extraordinary talent that can be seen and heard at the Budleigh Festival? These posts cover only a fraction of the gorgeous and brilliant music which has featured at this year's festival, and yet words cannot fully express the wonder of it all.

In yet another lunchtime concert - not free this time, but well worth the £8 admission price - if not more - pianist Alexandra Dariescu utterly amazed and transported a packed house with her inspired playing.

It's hard to forget the sumptuous performance by Lara Melda (formerly Lara Omeroglu - Young Musician of the Year 2010) at the Exeter Bach Society's 'Guest Performer' recital in the Exeter Cathedral Chapter House on Sunday 6 March this year. Alexandra does something similar! What passion. Many said that Alexandra 'made love' to the piano - and the audience too - she was clearly totally transported by emotion.



Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E flat took on a whole new meaning as Alexandra enthused over every note and grace note. There was so much emotion and so much fun, with every movement more exciting than the last. There was, sadly, the usual confusion with some thinking the opening allegro was the whole piece, but the scherzo soon set us right. The increasingly complex, stuttering rhythm gave way to sweet down-scales and crashing crescendos  - it's not the joke - it's the way you tell it! Then an incredibly smooth minuet, almost a hymn. Alexandra's rapturous expression mirrored the music perfectly. The final 'Presto con Fuoco' was a study in passion and intense concentration. Initially one might have described it as a 'lively dance', but soon the feeling was of a full speed gallop - and a lovely ride it was too!



Strangely Alexandra left the stage between each number - a little harmless theatre, and quite effective. She returned to introduce Liszt's Ballade No 2 in her delightful Roumanian accent, 'A battle of good and evil with the triumph of love!'. This rolling, rippling piece of music quickly became very ominous. An intense and beautiful soft section let us off for a while, but the scary deep bass rumble soon returned.

As expected a big explosive passage followed, but Alexandra took it back to softness and peace with accomplished skill. In the slow sections Alexandra seemed to talk to herself with her eyes closed - utterly engaged with the music. As she embarked on one down run she pulled out all the volume the piano could provide - before deftly gliding into the softest imaginable passage - so skilled!

(The Bosendorfer piano at Temple is extraordinarily dynamic, by the way. And it is a great pleasure to see it used to its fullest potential.)



Then Wagner - at a piano recital? Liszt's transcription of 'Liebestot' ('Death Love') from 'Tristan and Isolde' is perfect for Alexandra. After a portentious opening and pregnant pause she built waves of sound and emotion, soft and loving. Although passionate, she never let the sound grow to strong or coarse. Not only playing, but expressing the grief, Alexandra was Isolde, expressing her emotion through the keyboard. Tremolo evoked her sobs, grace notes her tears! The softest, softest waves of sound ended the lament.

A quick exit - and entrance - and Alexandra introduced two gorgeous Chopin pieces to finish. Andante Spianato (Walking on Level Ground) was a gentle, level roll, with occasional 'spikes'. Very relaxing after the passion of Wagner - a very good choice. Alexandra still talked to herself, but now her private conversation seemed a much happier one! The Polonaise (Polish Dance) to finish was initially loud and strident, but soon softeneed to a gentle dance. Alexandra's face was wreathed in smiles and she was now having a very happy conversation with herself!

Suddenly everything changed. Massive chords and an unexpected increase in vigour and complexity. Then, just as suddenly, Alexandra pushes back her hair and returns to the soft dance theme. The perfect choice for a finishing number, the Poloniase has a series of false endings before racing up and down the scale a couple of times before rippling to the true finish.

Now the exits and entrances made sense. We knew she would come back for an encore - a choice. More Chopin or something modern by Constantin Silvestri?
Silvestri please! Alexandra obliged with the 'Danse Bachanale' ('Drunken Orgy') from 'Samson and Delilah'. Alexandra really had fun with the 'orgy', drunkenly lurching around the keyboard, launching into sudden frenzied passages, maintaining a drunken plod in the bass with tipsy trill in the treble. A wonderful combination and a very impressive finish.

Alexandra seemed to be saying that she had performed the whole of 'Samson and Delilah' with the Bornemouth Symphony Orchestra. I wish I had been there!

Alexandra has also recently toured Argentina, where thousands flocked to hear her music. Here in Budleigh, one holiday maker from Nottingham, who had seen Alexandra at Wigmore Hall could not believe their luck when she reappeared at - the Budleigh Festival!

Later this year Alexandra will be in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre, with the Orchestra of St Paul's, to perform Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto. There is also talk of Beethoven's 'Emperor' Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Barbican Centre - and a Grieg concerto in Cambridge. A real high flyer ('Rising Star 2011' according to BBC Music!) Lets hope we are lucky enough to see Alexandra in Devon again soon.

Elizabeth Drury at Budleigh Festival


Brendon Ashe and Elizabeth Drury

Topsham soprano Lizzie Drury has been making a successful career in London as a singer - and a saxophonist. To crown teh Budleigh Festival, she returned to perform with accompanist Brendon Ashe.

 
Brendon plays
They opened with Purcell's 'Sweeter then Roses', a relaxed and slowly built performance with got the audience in a very good mood. But many had come, not to hear Lizzie sing, but to hear her play the saxophone.



Lizzie sings
 
She also has a saxaphone
Elegant and dressed in black - that's Lizzie's saxophone. And the sound matched its looks. Lizzie played Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'Six Studies in English Folk Song' with great tenderness and soul. Together she and Brendon produced a wonderful symphony of sound. Sometimes Brendon would open on the piano. Sometimes it would be the saxophone which came first. Always the sound was beautiful and entrancing.

   






 


. . . and plays beautufully



Ten 'Hermit Songs' by Samuel Barber completed the programme. Reminiscent of Mark Padmore's performance of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Britten Sinfonia at Dartington, but in a higher range, each song was a perfect little piece in itself. One or two were surprisingly short. The 'pilgrimage' charts human desire - a woman wants a baby, a man wants a keg of beer. Lust, storms, lament, all are included. (The storm is very abrupt!) The last song took us on the last pilgrimage - to death.

Lizzie's singing was very sweet, and very professional. If only the concert could have been longer - but a lunchtime concert can only last an hour, so we finished with 'Sure on this Shining Night', also by Barber. Brendon's touch on the piano was sensitive as always and LIzzie's singing was lingering and soulful. The pitch and dynamics perfect throughout.

It is always a real treat to see a local person who has built a classical career come back to entertain us in rural Devon. Many thanks to Lizzie and Brendon for a delightfully moving recital - and where else but the Budleigh Festival!

Fred Gest in Concert at St Andrew's Church Colyton Sunday 31 July

Visiting Dutch Concert Pianist Fred Gest
delights an audience at St Andrew's Colyton
Fred Gest is a concert pianist and music teacher from Lisse in the Netherlands. He is currently enjoying a long holiday in the UK, enjoying Devon life - and music.
At Newton St Cyres on 19 July he enjoyed Andrew Daldorph's Jazz composition 'Mass for Life' where Andrew played the piano and saxophone was provided by Chris Gradwell.
This week he heard Bethany Partridge's song recital at the Budleigh Festival.
Finally on Sunday he gave a recital of his own. On the well 'broken in' grand piano at St Andrew's Church Colyton ('played in' as Fred says) he gave a gorgeous one hour 'coffee and music' concert at 11.15am.
Scarlatti: 3 Sonatas
Schubert: Scherzo from the  B flat Sonata
Chopin: Prelude No 15, 'The Raindrop'
                 First Polonaise
Granados: Minuet
                    Andaluz
Albeniz: Granada
A beautiful combination of baroque, romantic and Spanish, all introduced by Fred himself in his delightful English.

All was recorded for posterity by Mike Gluyas, the perfectionist sound engineer from Down St Mary. We look forward to hearing extracts from Fred's recital on the 'Journey' as soon as Mike has worked his editing magic.

Thanks for a great concert Fred, and enjoy the rest of your holiday!

Also in the audience were several familiar local musicians, all eager to hear Fred play. Soprano Rosemary Henry, who performed 'One Perfect Rose' so beautifully at Glenorcy with Josephine Pickering on 4 December last year, and Rosemary's husband, woodwind player Philip Henry, who performed the permiere of Josephine's 'Reverie for Cor Anglais' with the composer at the same concert, both came from Topsham to hear Fred's concert.

Pianist Joyce Clarke, who played at Glenorchy with the Beacon Piano Trio on 3 February, and in a solo performance on 4 May, travelled from West Hill to hear the man himself. (Listen out for Joyce on the 'Classical Journey' in September, we'll have a full programmer of her wonderful playing on Tuesday 20th.)

Also listening was jazz clarinettist Chris Gradwell, who Fred was listening to on 19 July. Fred will be able to hear him again on Sunday 28 August, when 'Chris Gradwell and Friends' under the name of 'Music Deco' will be performing an evening of jazz numbers with Singer Kate Walker at Kennaway House in Sidmouth. Chris will also be perfaroming at his home venue of the Mariners Hall in Beer with another ensemble, 'A.J.' in cabaret with 'Big Band' saxophonist Ted White (94!)

There was even more exciting news about Chris Gradwell. On 25 February next year he will be in the orchestra for the East Devon Choral Society performance of Beethoven's 'Mass in C' (/Mozart's 'Mass in C minor', I always get confused!). At that concert Chris will also be soloist in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto - both works to be conducted by Andrew Daldorph.

Watch this space for details!