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24th April 2022 - Quintessential Brass
To say that a concert was "a lot of fun" might seem a little slighting, as if to say that the musicianship wasn't up to much. But this afternoon delivered playing of a very high quality while still being ... fun! So well done Simon Davie, Tim Pocock, Dave Richards, Ian Cox and Alison Davidson for giving us the best of both worlds.
We were promised a musical journey from the Renaissance to the present, and that's what the quintet delivered. Some of the choices were to be expected (a bit of Bach...) but there were some interesting discoveries, too, like the Sortie by Lefébure-Wély, arranged for brass. And there were some very, very, good arrangements of familiar tunes - many by Tim Pocock, one by Dave Richards and others from the Philip Jones ensemble. Tim's arrangement of Amazing Grace lifted a familiar tune to a whole new place - as did the Philip Jones version of Frere Jacques with which the concert ended.
We had a really good turnout for this performance too, which is always gratifying for both organisers and musicians! And the audience even got a chance to take part in a little 'participation', a challenge to which they rose with enthusiasm. So thanks to the players and to the audience as well for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
8th May 2022 - Gig for Ukraine
A fundraising event to raise money for Ukrainian refugee relief. Christ Church has been participating in a project run out of our sister church in Maidenhead, sending aid supplies to and via the Polish village of Susiec. The day after this concert, we despatched a fourth large goods vehicle full of food, medicines and other supplies.
The gig was offered entirely free of charge by the Gill Love Band - big thanks to them, and their drummer Iain Lemon, who first suggested this event. We raised over £1,200 including Gift Aid, a great result. And the band's mix of jazz, latin and light pop made for another foot-tapping afternoon.
26th Feb 2022 - Alexei Watkins and Harry Rylance
A marvelous evening of music for French horn and piano, by two very fine young professional musicians.
One horn player in the audience informed me that I probably didn't appreciate that all the great challenges of the solo horn repertoire were in this programme... Well, let's say that I had a pretty good idea what a massive range of peaks the performers had set themselves to climb. And how magnificently they scaled them! From Beethoven's early sonata, through Schumann's Adagio and Allegro and Saint Saens' Morceau de Concert, to the extraordinary Appel Interstellaire by Messiaen. I particularly enjoyed Poulenc's tribute to the great horn player Dennis Brain, whose centenary was in 2021, and the recital also included one of his party pieces, Vinter's Hunter's Moon.
Alongside Alexei's superb horn playing, Harry Rylance was simply outstanding at the piano. His performance of Agosti's transcription of music from the Stravinsky's Firebird delighted the pianists in our midst, his range of dynamics being remarkable. And he looked so calm about it all!
So, two more musicians to watch as they continue their careers, in which we wish them every success.
27th Nov 2021 - Frances Stafford and Emily Hoh, "Fantasia"
A return visit by soprano Frances Stafford, this time accompanied wonderfully by Emily Hoh. The big monster in their programme was Schumann's "Fraunliebe und Leben" and this was complemented by other songs and arias by Verdi, Tosti, Rebecca Clarke, Gounod and Richard Strauss. And we had a Christmassy encore for which Fran and Emily changed roles! As we have come to expect from this singer, it was a fine performance and it brought our 2021 'Revival' season to a great end.
29th Oct 2021 - 'Hoagy' by the Chris Ingham Quartet
A return visit by Chris (vocals and piano) with Paul Higgs, Marianne Wyndham and George Double, this time presenting an evening of the hits of Hoagy Carmichael.
It was a feelgood show from start to finish and, given that the quartet has been touring this music since 2014, it was remarkable what a fresh sparkle they gave to it. The big hits were there - Georgia on my mind, Stadust, Skylark - but so were some less well known numbers. Paul Higgs has such a beautiful tone on the trumpet and most of the time his playing could also be described as 'restrained', but on a song like Old Man Harlem he was really able to cut loose. And Chris gave us a remarkable duet with Marianne's bass on Baltimore Oriole, a song with the fabulous lines "It's a woman like, now and then, Could happen to thing"! The band wound up with My resistance is low and a reprise of Riverboat Shuffle, sending everyone home happy!
9th Oct 2021 - Brompton Quartet
The quartet was due to play for us in March 2020, when lockdown intervened. In the meantime, they have become Park Lane Group artists and made their Wigmore Hall debut, so we were very fortunate indeed to have them play for us in Marlow.
It was quite simply one of the best evenings we have ever had in our venue. The programme comparised Haydn's "Rider" quartet Op 74, Prokofiev's first quartet, Schubert's Quartettsatz and Beethoven's Op 59 No 1. The quality of playing was wonderful throughout, with terrific sense of ensemble as well as beautiful tone from all the instruments. The adagio of the Beethoven was achingly lovely and our audience was rightly spellbound. What a privilege to be so close and so 'engaged' in music making of this quality.
We have no doubt that Maja Horvat, Esther Park, Kinga Wojdalska and Wallis Power all have great futures ahead of them. We will watch their continuing success and will remember their performance in Marlow for a long time!
12th Sept 2021 - The Chiltern Collective: Nicola Summerscales, Samantha Wickramasinghe, Richard Shaw
Our venue had been 'silent' for well over eighteen months, for reasons that need no explanation. So it was a huge joy to welcome the musicians who gave us this very fine concert of music for flute, violin and piano. That included the amazing Richard Shaw, standing in at the last minute for Marisa Cornford who had a family bereavement.
The first half gave us a succession of virtuoso pieces, Chaminade's Concertino for flute and piano, Saint-Saens' Rondo Capriccioso and Borne's Fantaisie Brillante on Carmen. Huge fun and played with much verve! Then, after tea and cakes, we moved to slightly weightier material with Elgar's violin sonata and Martinu's trio of 1944, originally scored for cello but arranged by Marisa. A great discovery for those of us who didn't know the work, the outer movements lively and the middle adagio, in Nicola's words, simply "divine". The musicians received a well-deserved ovation - we are, as ever, hugely endebted to them for coming to Christ Church!
25th Jan 2020 - On Forest Paths.
Frances Stafford (sop) and Matthew Stanley (pno)
A concert which could so easily not have happened - first, Fran sustained a hip injury and then, on just two days notice, her planned accompanist had to pull out. What an amazing job was done by Matthew Stanley at the piano!
Fran has a beautiful tone in the mid-register that gave a delightful floating quality to the 'dreamier' pieces, such as Robert Schumann's Meine Rose or the more contemporary Michael Head's A Green Cornfield. But her liking for musical theatre was never far below the surface, even in the romantic repertoire. Faure's Le papillon et la fleur was, well, hammed up a bit and none the worse for becoming almost a comic song. She made a splendidly dangerous Lorelei in Clara Schumann's song of that title, and brought the same composer's Liebeszauber to passionate life. Chabrier's Toutes les Fleurs! received the full operatic treatment, "worthy of Nero drowning his dinner guests in rose-petals" to steal from the sleeve notes to Hyperion's recording.
My favourite song, though, was Richard Strauss' Schlagende Herzen, full of interplay between singer and pianist. It was one of three songs by Strauss which gave Matthew Stanley some real alpine peaks to scale, although Liszt's Enfant, si j'etais roi also brought forth an extraordinary thunderous bass line from the piano.