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Bax & Glinka rarities


Charlton House, London 4 Nov

A splendid concert of music for ensembles, devised, introduced & conducted by Stephen Maw, who has built up a loyal lunch-time audience of c. 100 at the lovely library of Charlton House.

I knew Bax's luscious Nonet, a deliciously 'heart-on-sleeve' work of yearningly lyrical melodies, in the '50s from a 78 r.p.m. shellac disc, and was keen to take the opportunity to renew its acquaintance (hear substantial extracts from the Hyperion recording). Gorgeous sonorities in Charlton House's perfect ambience and acoustic.

Bax was followed by a novelty, Glinka's quite extraordinary Serenade on tunes from Donizetti's Anna Bolena, for septet featuring harp and piano, together with lower strings, horn & bassoon, each with rewarding solo spots taken in style.

The concert is to be repeated at Trinity College Chapel and at Regent Hall in the West End. Try to catch it.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Bach/Webern, Dukas/Farrington, Nancarrow & Nancarrow/Mikhashoff), Sibelius/Farrington etc

Ives, Adeste Fideles
Bach (arr. Webern) Ricercar a 6
Berio, from Duetti for 2 violins
Saint-Saƫns, Preambule from Septet
Varese Octandre
Legrand (arr. Farrington) Les Moulins
Dukas (arr. Farrington) The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Nancarrow Study for Player Piano No. 7
Schubert Gretchen am Spinnrade
Kats-Chernin, Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti
Nancarrow Study No. 7 (arr. Mikhashoff)
Sibelius, Valse Triste (arr. Farrington)

Aurora Orchestra/Nicholas Collon
Catherine Hopper (mezzo-soprano)
Rex Lawson (pianola)
Ian Farrington (arrangements)

LSO St Luke's, London, 4 November 2011

Help Me ! *

Later the same day, this bizarre "show", concocted by a committee it would seem, had at its centre several superb performances of pieces of music given by the expert players of Aurora Orchestra under their fine but complicit conductor Nicholas Collon, who surely has his sights on major international appointments? The ambience and the acoustics of St Luke's are gratifying, and there was a capacity audience determined to enjoy it all, despite a large graphic spread in front of them for the interval, reading Release Me !!

Most notable in this mish-mash was the Bach/Webern with which it all started, a splendid Sorcerer's Apprentice (one of Ian Farringon's expert arrangements for the Auroras) and a rare chance to hear live the Varese Octandre, which had first excited me in Slonimsky's 1938 recording (on an ancient 10" 78 shellac compilation The Columbia History of Music) and it still does...

The Auroras vindicated Yvar Mikhashoff's belief that instrumentalists were to become capable of playing Conlon Nancarrow's rhythmically intricate studies for player piano, which had not been envisaged by the composer, who punched them out on paper rolls. Lachenmann pupil Kats-Chernin, previously enjoyed in chamber music, was in her orchestral piece here too long and too loud.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* Other reports of this unusual event would be welcomed?
The critcal fraternity was not conspicuous by its presence, but look out for a likely appreciative review in The Times, unfortunately now only available on the internet by subscription.