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Blackheath Mondays

Clélia at Blackheath

3 June 2013

This was, simply, one of the best piano recitals I've heard in many a long year. I had enjoyed Clélia Iruzun in duo and on CD but not previously heard her solo.*

She has an easy manner and good rapport with her audience, and we all enjoyed this programme of mainly South American music, plus magical, unforgettable Chopin.

It is not long since there were discussions about the Recital Room's refurbishment, and whether carpeting might be needed to dampen over-loud experiences of piano and from opera singers there. Clélia Iruzun scotched those thoughts, producing the best sounds ever from Blackheath's Bösendorfer, with a wide range from pp to fff, demonstrating that her ears are as sensitive as her fingers reliable. Her control of dynamics was such that we would have been happy with even louder climaxes...

For her extensive 18th/19th C. repertoires, Clélia Iruzun's DVD of Beethoven, Chopin, Mendelssohn etc, recorded in the Yehudi Menuhin School **, is recommend most strongly [Classical Recording Company CRC-DVD 1909].

[In the school's early days my young son, budding pianist and singer, had been offered a place there by the first director of music, Belgian pianist Marcel Gazelle **, which in the event was not taken up, seemingly wisely in retrospect...).

Peter Grahame Woolf

*See generous selection of Clélia Iruzun on video !



Schubert, Grieg & Wolf Songs

Alison Rose & James Cheung

Blackheath Halls, 13 May 2013

A splendid recital from a former RNCM singer student, next a prizewinner at RAM, soon to take up a scholarship on the GSMD opera course in the City.

On this showing, Alison Rose's is definitely a name to watch. She gave all 17 songs by memory and with charming audience rapport and was sensitively partnered by James Cheung, whom we had enjoyed last year in a remarkable Winterreise with Benjamin Appl.

They found an ideal balance and volume level for the newly refurbished Recital Room, which some others have misjudged...

They finished a Hugo Wolf selection with Du sagst mir & Ich hab in Penna, a song which firmly takes the pianist right out of the accompanist role ! And previously, in the epilogue to Wie lange schon, he had made some audience members unfamiliar with the Italienische Liederbuche apprehensive that he was having a small stroke !

Peter Grahame Woolf

Mahler, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Falla & Catalani

April Fredrick soprano & Amy de Sybel piano

22 April 2013

A varied song recital at the highest professional level, one of the very best in this series.

Mahler, Debussy, Rachmaninov were more familiar recital fare, advantaged by the provision of full texts and English translations supplied by this enthusiast linguist and international singer, who latterly trained at the Royal Acadamy in London, where she had been enjoyed singing Catalani previously in a programme curated by Peter Sheppard Skærved.

The atmosphere hotted up for three Falla popular Songs and the climax of the whole hour was Catalanis Al dolce canto del Dio amore, partnered by her pianist partner who expressed each of the national idioms in support.

Peter Grahame Woolf

4 March 2013










A very pleasant lunchtime concert, well designed for the venue and its audience, with the two young singers suitably dressed for an informal lunchtime occasion.

The original texts were supplied, which was most helpful for the Debussy and Delibes items. Marianne Wright in green had a voice on the small side, but her articulation was excellent and her gestures appropriate - she might have needing to husband her voice because of a cold, as had to repeatedly pick up her glass of water from underneath the piano.

Phillipa Thomas in red had a stronger presence and put over the Falla popular songs with flair. The two of them enjoyed duetting in Saint-Saens and joined in a tour of force for the melodious Lakmé favourite; timely, as the whole opera was on Sky Arts 2 that week, and turned out to be better than I'd anticipated.

The two pianists took turns and page-turned for each other which helped the atmosphere.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Badkes at Blackheath

Recital Room

18 February 2013











In 2011 Tom Butler's 75th birthday was marked by a specially commissioned celebratory piano quintet at St Olave's in the City, and the following year the Badke Quartet appeared there and included the Britten No. 3 to mark Butler's retirement as curator of the successful series of lunchtime concerts he'd curated there. He handed them over as a thriving concern to Michael Gammie [R], who was at Blackheath today, if you follow me...

This year he brought to Blackheath the renowned Badke Quartet for another extraordinarily moving account of the third and last of Britten's string quartets, its composition completed at Venice and evoking the opera Death in Venice.

This performance was especially remarkable given that the violinists Lana Trotovšek and Emma Parker were replaced for this occasion by Charlotte Scott (of the Piattis) and Helena Nicholls - photographed above L with violist Jon Thorne receiving Tom Butler's appreciation; their cohesion was so perfect that you'd never have guessed. Cellist Jonathan Byers, who announced the Britten quartet helpfully, is with them in the other image (photography allowed upstairs !) which gives a glimpse of the newly restored Recital Room's improved look.

The Recital Room was packed and afterwards Tom Butler's generosity extended to a magnificent snacks and drinks buffet for everyone. An occasion to remember.

Peter GrahameWoolf