Monday, 4 August 2014

Kevin Hurst & Joyce Clarke "A French Delight" Romantic Music from the Conservatoire de Paris Temple Church Budleigh Saturday 12 July 2014

Joyce Clarke & Kevin Hurst
"A French Delight"
Temple Church Budleigh Salterton
Saturday 12 July

Clarinet: Kevin Hurst
From Friday 11 July, through to Saturday 19 July this year, the Budleigh Festival lunchtime concert series included eight splendid concerts by local and visiting artists. Following the opening concert by Bath Musician of the Year, Kirsty Chaplin, there was a delightful medley of French pieces for clarinet and piano performed in the Temple Church from 12-1pm on Saturday 12 July..

The clarinettist was the very wonderful, and supremely cool, Kevin Hurst accompanied on the piano by Joyce Clarke.

Kevin very rarely plays in public. (The only record of him on this blog is in a review of his classical collaboration with Frances Waters at Glenorchy Church, Exmouth, on 7 December 2011.) However, Kevin is a well-known and popular musician in Budleigh Salterton. He teaches clarinet, and is also a chess coach. As the Festival approached he was a natural choice to entertain Budleigh residents and visitors alike.

Piano: Joyce Clarke
Joyce lives nearby in West Hill, and regularly hosts charity recitals at her own home - where she has a Bösendorfer grand piano similar to the one brought into the Temple Church for the Festival - from Sidmouth. Joyce is also well known for her public solo recitals - as far afield as Venice, and nearer to home at David Lee's excellent lunchtime concert series at Glenorchy.

It was following one of these concerts, on 4 May 2011, that Joyce arranged to join us on Phonic FM for a discussion of her music, as well as that of her father Harold Noble, on 20 September 2011. Joyce is married to opera impressario Peter Clarke, and still works regularly as an opera répétiteur - which is very exacting work for a pianist.

Beacon Piano Trio
Anna Cockroft, Joyce Clarke, Ruth Lass
Joyce is also a key member of the Beacon Piano Trio, in which she plays piano with violinist Anna Cockroft and 'cellist Ruth Lass. Shortly after her interview on Phonic FM, Joyce and the trio were at Glenorchy on 12 October 2011, a concert which was repeated at Queen's College Taunton at the end of the month.

Later this month, on 17 August, the Beacon Piano Trio will be at the ancient and evocative St Lawrence Chapel to give a concert of classical and romantic music as part of this year's celebration of the 700th anniversary of the granting of the chapel to Ashburton by Bishop Stapledon in 1314. Full details of all the concerts in this series - including those yet to come - are on the post for 5 January 2014.

At Budleigh on Saturday 12 July, the extraordinary combination of the talents of Kevin Hurst and Joyce Clarke was presented to a capacity audience at Temple Church. The concert was called "A French Delight", and proved to be well named.

Kevin preceded each piece with a very informative introduction, delivered with supremely cool assurance. The music was equally eloquent, and included some of the most demanding pieces for clarinet and piano by the Parisian virtuosi of the romantic school. The programme had been carefully selected to progress from the merely impressive to the utterly astounding.

Notwithstanding an interesting manuscript manipulation breakdown during one piece (so skilfully handled that it is almost impossible to detect in the recording), every one of the offerings was a masterpiece of technical accomplishment and interpretive excellence. Joyce, as her many fans have come to expect, was the master of sensitive support from the keyboard, while Kevin shone with virtuosic brilliance from centre-stage.

The secret to superior sound
- Backun construction
The common feature of all the pieces in the programme was competition level composition, to the very exacting standards of the Conservatoire de Paris. Each composer stamped their mark on the college competition (or 'concours') repertoire, before going on to become famous as virtousi, professors, and composers.

Kevin made light of the opening works - describing them as 'street café music' from Paris, such as you might imagine as background for Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's eighties sitcom "'Allo 'Allo" - to accompany the misogynistic antics of Gordon Kaye, as café owner René Artois.

That might have been the flavour, but the technical genius of each work was evident from the first note. Below are links to the 'Mixcloud' uploads of the recordings from the Festival concert. To hear the full concert with Kevin's very special intro's, tune in to "Classical Journey" on Phonic FM from 10-12am this Tuesday (5th August)

Paul Jeanjean (1874-1928): Clair Matin

("Pleasing & lyrical, with elegance")

     Paul Jeanjean (1874-1928): "Clair Matin" 

Henri Rabaud (1873-1949): Solo de Concours
("Modernism is the enemy - note the distinct baroque influence")

Henri Rabaud
Henri Rabaud: "Solo de Concours"

("President of the Confédération Musicale de France")

Jules Semler-Collery
(1902 - 1988)
Cruiser "Jeanne d'Arc"
Musical Crew Chief 1945-48:
Jules Selmer-Collery

Claude Debussy (1862-1918): "Première Rhapsodie"
("Very rich writing for both clarinet & piano, with oriental influences ")

Claude Debussy: "Première Rhapsodie"
Claude Debussy

Louis Cahuzac (1880-1960): "Cantilène"
("A wild tempestuous piece, lyrical and joyful")

Louis Cahuzac

Gabriel Grovlez (1879-1944): "Sarabande et Allegro"
("A conductor who composed for the Société Nationale de l'Opera")

Gabriel Grovlez
Gabriel Grovlez "Sarabande et Allegro"

André Messager (1853-1929): "Solo de Concours"
("The piece screams its way to a blinding finish - A total blast")

André Messager "Solo de Concours"
André Messager

Two musical competitors
complement each other in conquest
Joyce Clarke & Kevin Hurst


That final piece by Messager was the clincher. Every artifice of extreme excellence was brought together in one climactic cadenza. The electrified audience whistled and cried "Bravo" in raptures of ecstasy. Joyce remained cool at the keyboard, while Kevin admitted to being quite drained by the whole experience. He even took the opportunity to let his tennis partner (who was in the audience) know that the afternoon's match would have to be abandoned - energy exhausted.

However, Kevin couldn't resist including one last treat for the pleasure of that happy throng. Leaving France behind, and leaping into the twenty-first century, he played us a lovely little piece by a West Country man - from Weston-Super-Mare. This music will be familiar as the theme from a very English movie (directed by that quintessential Englishman, Charles Dance).

"Ladies in Lavendar"
 Janet (Maggie Smith) & Ursula (Judi Dench)
protégé Andrea (Daniel Brühl)

Nigel Hess (1953-) "Ladies in Lavendar"
Theme music to Charles Dance's 2004 movie "Ladies in Lavendar"

Nigel Hess (1953-)
Nigel Hess "Ladies in Lavendar"

  Magical !

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