March 30th 2019
The British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is now established as one of the most versatile and best loved singing groups.Touring extensively throughout Europe, North America and Asia, the ensemble perform a repertory from Renaissance polyphony to contemporary commissions and arrangements.
This performance featured composers Byrd, Britten, Rachmaninov and composer-in residence Jonathan Dove. Trademark jazz and pop arrangements from Nat King Cole, Van Morrison and Duke Ellington where also performed.
April 13th 2019
Stephen Hough – piano
Stephen Hough’s steady ascent to the summit of his profession exhibits equally supreme mastery of his instrument and the deep humanity from which it has flowered.
- Chaconne: Bach/Busoni
- Berceuse: Busoni
- Sonata No.2 in B flat minor Op.35: Chopin
- Sonata No 4 Vida breve Hough
- Funerailles: Liszt
- Mephisto Waltz (Bagatelle without tonality): Liszt
- Mephisto Waltz No.1: Liszt
May 4th 2019
The award winning Carducci Quartet is internationally acclaimed as one of the most accomplished and versatile ensembles of today.
- Quartet Op.18 No.4 in C minor: Beethoven
- Quartet No.1 in A minor Op.7: Bartok
- Quartet No.2 in D major: Borodin
May 11th 2019
Julian Bliss – clarinet
Robert Bottriell – piano
One of the world’s finest clarinettists.
- Drei Fantasiestucke (Three Fantasy Pieces) Op.73: Schumann
- Sonata for Solo Clarinet: Olah
- Grand Duo Concertant Op.48: Weber
- Premiere Rhapsodie for Solo Clarinet: Debussy
- Sonata in F minor Op.120 No.1: Brahms
Performance Reviews 2019
The first concert of Painswick Music Society’s season featured a very welcome return of the celebrated vocal ensemble VOCES8, and local tenor Sam Dressel, a former Wycliffe College music scholar, was given an especially warm welcome. Their programme, illustrating their trademark versatility, spanned 5 centuries from Renaissance William Byrd and John Mundy to Van Morrison, Simon and Garfunkel and Duke Ellington. They established an easy rapport with the audience from the outset and their performance throughout demonstrated their evident joy in the music and a faultless balance of the different voices.
There were many wonderful moments: the seamless blending of the parts in Rachmaninov’s Bogoroditse Devo, the very different soundworld of Jonathan Dove with an endlessly repeated chant to words from the Navaho tradition, the dark beauty and complexity of Britten’s Choral Dances from Gloriana and the use of the singer’s voices as instruments in Demetrio and Ruiz’s Sway. In all their singing, there was stunning clarity, balance, and above all, great communication. Yet again, the audience was treated to a quite remarkable performance and we hope to see them again soon. Visit YouTube to hear their music and visit voces8.com for more information about the group and also their extensive educational outreach.
Stephen Hough -piano
Our second concert was a sublime piano recital by one of the world’s finest pianists, Stephen Hough.
In addition to his remarkable pianism, Stephen’s talents extend to composing, painting and writing; his novel, The Final Retreat, has been published recently.
Stephen began his recital with the stately, opening theme of the Bach Violin Chaconne, transcribed for piano by Busoni, and proceeded to lead a rapt audience through twenty- nine variations of wondrously changing colour and mood. When, in the final coda, the theme returned in mighty, fortissimo chords and runs, the power and richness of sound, almost organ-like, took one’s breath away.
Chopin’s Funeral-March Sonata was one of several pieces on the programme which touched upon the theme of death. After the first two movements, in which driving chords and octaves were interspersed with beautifully-projected, melodic writing, Stephen gave one of the finest performances of the Funeral March one could ever hope to hear. Many pianists play it too slowly, allowing the drama to sag, but, on this occasion, it was a proper march – taut, with layer upon layer of emotion. The final, lingering chords beautifully dovetailed into the whirling triplets of the brief, last movement, once described as winds howling around gravestones.
After the interval, we were treated to a performance of Stephen’s own 4th Piano Sonata, Vida Breve, a work of concentrated musical fragments. Building to a sudden and passionate quotation from the song, En Avril a Paris, the work finally dissolved into an anarchic and headlong conclusion of six, irate, base octaves.
After a powerful and dramatic performance of Liszt’s Funérailles, we were drawn into the diabolical world of two Mephisto Waltzes by Liszt. In a tumult of cackling trills, seductive tunes and hurtling arpeggios, Stephen let loose the Devil, ending with a keyboard frenzy which stretched pianistic bravura beyond belief.
The enthusiastic audience clapped and stamped and was treated to an encore, a serene rendition of Bach’s Prelude in C, adapted by Stephen from the original, and projected with aching tenderness by this very great musician.
The concert opened with Beethoven’s Quartet Opus 18 No 4 in C minor, an early quartet with quiet delicately phrased passages gathering strength and complexity as the music moved on. Although the first movement is in the minor key there is a strong sense of purpose and direction, which was made evident in the performance. As the quartet progressed through the scherzo and andante into the minuet, the beauty and intensity of Beethoven’s music was revealed. The finale was played delicately with an increase in tempo towards the end which brought the work to a satisfying conclusion. The music was handled deftly by the quartet in a sensitive and expressive performance.
Bartok’s Quartet No 1 in A minor followed, quite a different proposition, full of harmonies that required a different approach, but the quartet succeeded in bringing it alive, starting quietly with the violins and bringing in the viola and cello later. The throbbing rhythms were handled well as were the interrupted phrases. The finale was full of the exciting dance rhythms typical of Hungarian folk music, including at the end, a slow tempo tune high up on the violin with a trilled accompaniment. The music faded then suddenly became alive at the end and finished with the energy and precision that Bartok required. The Carducci Quartet produced another fine interpretation of this Bartok quartet.
The last work in the concert was the Quartet No 2 by Borodin. Here again the music started quietly with the flowing motive at the start on the violins with the cello and viola playing below in the lower registers, creating a serene atmosphere, perhaps evoking the sense of a Russian countryside in the Spring. As the music moves into the waltz like second movement, the cello is kept busy at the base and the movement is brought to a close with a short pizzicato passage. The idyllic tune on the cello, Borodin’s most famous melody, introduces the third movement, and this tune is passed to the violins and the viola, reappearing at intervals throughout the movement. The final movement begins with a motive on the violins, answered by the viola and the cello. Soon the mood changes and the quartet was brought to an exciting close with vigour and precision. A very satisfying performance of all three quartets and an impressive end to a delightful concert with what was probably the best, the Borodin quartet, served up last.
Julian Bliss and Robert Bottriell
At St.Mary’s Church on Saturday, 11th May, Julian Bliss (clarinet) and Robert Bottriell (piano) delighted their audience with a beautifully balanced programme, performed with great panache.
The chemistry between the performers was immediately apparent with a moving performance of Schumann’s Fantaisiestucke, in which the impassioned melodies were, seamlessly, passed between the two instruments.
Julian Bliss established a lovely rapport with the audience in his informative and, at times, humorous introductions to the pieces.
In the contemporary, Solo Clarinet Sonata by Tiberiu Olah, Julian completely ‘sold’ this challenging piece to the audience with a kaleidoscope of expressive timbres.
They then brought the first half of the concert to close with a brilliant rendering of the Weber’s Grand Duo Concertante, a work which requires a great brilliance from both performers.
After the interval, we were treated to a performance of Debussy’s Premier Rhapsody, full of beautiful colour with echoes of the composer’s orchestral works, L’Apres Midi d’un Faune and La Mer.
A soulful performance of the clarinet Sonata no 1 by Brahms ended this thrilling concert.
An excited audience clapped and stamped for more and these two fine musicians let their hair down, first with Monti’s lively Czardas (usually played on the violin) and then with the reflective Sonatina by Joseph Horowitz.