Tamesis Issue 180
Don’t forget about David’s renaissance playing day next weekend. I’m really sorry that I can’t go this time as it’s a great opportunity to play all those unusual instruments that don’t come out very often (as well as recorders, viols etc.) Singers who can hold their own are welcome as well. Talking of singers, I’m told that the Cambridge weekend (same weekend) singing in Trinity College with Michael Procter is short of sopranos! I never thought I would hear that!
I was going to talk about the Carwood day last month, but it’s been very well covered by Christine in her review. I’d just like to thank Michael and Mary for giving me such an enjoyable day. It’s not often that I go to a TVEMF event that I haven’t had to organise any part of, and St Mary’s church is a little gem, hidden away behind a pub opposite the famous Hoover factory.
Actually the baroque day next month is another event I don’t have to organise at all, and I’m really looking forward to it. Peter Collier always has everything set up in advance, with the groups arranged and music allocated. Pitch is 415 and 440 so he can cater for all appropriate instruments. Singers really have to have to be happy singing solo and tell him in advance what music they would like to sing and the required instrumentation. I can’t remember if it said on the form, but it’s sensible to take a picnic lunch because the waiting time for food at the pub is unbelievably long.
Thanks to all the people who have sent me contributions this month. It really helps to make Tamesis a good read and not just a list.
Not quite so many thanks to the enormous number of people who have sent concert listings (though of course you’re most welcome to), only because I’ve had so much trouble with having to juggle the information you’ve sent me. Please try to send your listing in the order in which it will appear in Tamesis and NEVER send a huge file with a poster attached to it! Have a look at this month’s list to see what order I put it in, because this will save me a lot of time. If you are doing the same concert in several venues, repeat all the info with each event. I should say that some people are always very good at sending something I can just paste in. The star prize for this goes to Skeleton Crew! Please note that I don’t include the conductor unless they are also playing, or long lists of performers and detailed works, glowing descriptions etc. I don’t put in prices either unless it’s tickets at the door only. Times are assumed to be 7.30 unless otherwise stated, but if you're going it’s always a good idea to check with the contact number or the website in case there are any updates.
I very much enjoyed the workshop at Perivale with Andrew Carwood, whom I had not previously encountered. He had many interesting things to say and kept us alert by asking questions, which was slightly disconcerting at first but certainly kept our attention! St. Mary's seems a good venue for an event of up to 50 singers as it is easily accessible and has considerable charm. Michael and Mary Reynor set new standards for event organisers with their attention to detail and especially the refreshments.
Don't forget that our annual renaissance music playing day is on the 25th of March. This is an opportunity to make new contacts and explore fresh music or perhaps those pieces that have been lurking in a cupboard for so long. We have a reasonable number of players, but more would definitely be welcome, particularly those instruments or voices capable of playing or singing an alto or tenor line. Instrumentalists and singers who can hold a part are welcome - let me know by Thursday the 23rd of March if you would like to come.
The following week is the Baroque Day, which is always popular, very well organised by Peter Collier and attracts a varied set of players and singers. I hope to see many of you at both of these events.
MAGNIFICAT – Music for the Annunciation February 25th
The little 12th century church of St Mary’s Perivale in Ealing West London is a new venue for TVEMF. We arrived on a d; but after the cofistinctlyfchillee break we were iy morning and it took time for the heaters and our Andrew Carwood’svoices to warm up enthusiastic and encouraging direction.n good spirits and responding well to
We started with Alma Redemptoris Mater by Peter Phillips (1560 – 1628), the latest of the four works we studied, and then moved on to Magnificat Regali (1464 –1521) the earliest piece, by Fayrfax. For someone like myself who rarely sings music of this period it was of particular interest. The music was rhythmically intricate with long phrases on one syllable, which was tricky to read. Fairfax gives long episodes to duets and trios and then brings back the other parts, drops them out again, but builds up to a splendidly sonorous ending. The other music we tackled was Byrd’s Propers for the Annunciation which included a lovely Ave Maria, and Verbum Caro Factum est by John Farmer. There were a good number of men and so we had a balanced choir and some excellent sightreaders in all parts to keep us afloat. Andrew is a highly accomplished conductor and choir trainer and I personally learned a great deal during the course of the day. As an OFSTED Inspector might put it, he kept us “on task” and completely involved with the music, while giving us the benefit of his vocal expertise and dropping in helpful and interesting nuggets of information along the way. Singing to “ding” kept us on our toes metaphorically and gave shape and energy to the music. Taking much greater care of our vowels – avoiding diphthongs- helped us to sing in tune.
I had not realised that treble voices were used in English choirs earlier than on the continent and were much admired and commented on by European visitors.
Andrew discussed problems of vocal range in the music we had been singing with some wry observations about the fashion for transposing up a third, seemingly on flimsy evidence, causing even more problems along the way. Andrew obviously has an in-depth knowledge of early music but he is never pedantic and his common sense approach to early music performance was very refreshing.
As a local it was a treat to have a TVEMF day on my doorstep. I know St Mary’s and was aware of some of the problems of the venue. Fortunately Michael and Mary Reynor were models of efficiency and with their organisation, good humour and the help of the local pub, the day went smoothly and Mary’s homemade cakes were a triumph! Many thanks to all concerned for a very successful workshop.
The Wooburn Singers in Amersham
The Wooburn Singers gave their concert of Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Theresa Mass to a packed audience at St.Mary’s Church, Amersham on Saturday 4th March. Since their young and dynamic Music Director, Greg Beardsell, joined them in April 2005 the reputation of the choir has grown and I knew we were in for a treat.
The choir started their programme with Mozart’s beautiful motet Ave Verum Corpus which they sang from memory. What a difference it makes when all eyes are on the conductor. The sound was warm and rich with a particularly strong tenor line.
Mozart’s Requiem came next. This was an exciting performance with many contrasts in dynamics and articulation. I imagine that much work went into rehearsing the light and detached semi-quaver fugal lines which came over so clearly at the start of the Kyrie. What I found memorable were the powerful chords at the start of ‘Rex tremendae’ followed by the descending lyrical ‘salva me’ and again the punctuated chords at the beginning of the ‘Lacrymosa’ followed by the contrasted legato phrase. There were times when the soloists were rather swamped by the enthusiasm of the brass but in general the balance was good.
Haydn’s Theresa Mass was an unfamiliar work to me. It is one of Haydn’s last six great masses of which the Nelson Mass is the most famous. When the Mass was composed in 1799 there was a shortage of wind players at Eisenstadt so the scoring is for two clarinets, a bassoon and two trumpets. Again the choir gave a spirited performance with some excellent contrasts of articulation.
Although the teenagers I took with me found that sitting through two masses was quite a challenge, for me it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Chiltern Baroque Soloists in Chesham
I had a difficult choice that day, whether to go to the Wooburn Singers concert which Alison has reviewed above, or the Chiltern Baroque Soloists a few miles down the road. What a pity that they were both on the same evening. You expect duplications in London, but not round here. I obviously missed a really good concert in Amersham, but I’m still glad that I went to Chesham for the Bach Family concert with Chiltern Baroque. To be honest, some of it wasn’t quite up to their usual high standard, particularly in the CPE Bach trio sonata where the players didn’t seem to have quite decided amongst themselves what speed to play it and the violin entries always seemed to be a bit faster than the flute had just been playing. But Silas Standage played a very interesting organ prelude and fugue by one of Bach’s uncles, Johann Christoph, and there was a good performance of the Trio Sonata from the Musical Offering.
The absolute star of the show was the cellist David Watkin who even managed to make the not specially interesting continuo part of the CPE Bach worth paying attention to. His performance of the JS Bach second cello suite in D minor was absolutely amazing, with all the movements beautifully characterised and some wonderful hurdy-gurdy effects in the gigue. I see from the programme that he is also principal cello of the Philharmonia Orchestra. How versatile can you get! Definitely a player to watch out for.
The (paper) programme itself was a little disappointing, with more space given to information about the players than about the music. How I wish performers wouldn’t do this. I’ve got a CD to review at the moment with just the same problem. The lack of information in the programme notes (there was some) was made up for by the players who said a little about some of the pieces in advance. I could really feel Peter Hanson trying to avoid difficult words like basso continuo and obbligato, though, and I do think performers should give the audience credit for having some musical knowledge.
Don’t let anything I’ve said put you off going to a Chiltern Baroque concert in the future. Their standard of playing is usually excellent and it’s good to have professional early music concerts away from the big centres.
What a wonderful response to the number plate challenge. Unfortunately someone else (long- lost relative?) has bagged SEV 10R - I saw it on a Ford Capri some time in the 1970s.
Another challenge - can anyone recollect a concert of contemporary/pop/rock/jazz/world music which included an item of baroque music (played of course on period instruments)? This thought struck me when reading the brochure for this year's Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music. Even with the aid of reading glasses it was hard to find much baroque music.
Impressive web sheet music resource
Wayne Plummer has just given me this address for finding public domain sheet music. For music by Heinrich Schütz look at You can then work out how to find other composers.
It’s sometimes difficult to find somewhere where you can make a loud noise if you live in a flat in London, so you might be interested to know that it’s possible to hire the Wigmore Hall’s rehearsal rooms during the day at quite a reasonable rate.