Thames Valley Early Music Forum
Tamesis Issue 177
A lot of members went to the Greenwich exhibition last week. I’d be interested to know whether you found the Forum stand easily, as we were tucked away in the room at the end of the bar. I have already suggested to the organisers that better signposting down the tunnel would be a good idea. A place in the Painted Hall might have been better, but would have been more expensive. In fact we have already received a generous financial contribution from NEMA and help from several other forums, so the cost was much lower to us this time. I would like to thank everyone who helped on the stand, and particularly Mark Windisch of NEMA and Robert Johnston of EEMF who spent a great deal of time there. I hope we shall gain some interesting new members as a result of our efforts. Please note that there will be no December issue of Tamesis. The next copy date will be January 9th. Don’t forget to send your competition entry, to win a year’s free subscription to TVEMF, to Hazel by January 4th. Thank you very much to our contributors this time.
I sometimes get enquiries from members asking if I know of instruments they could buy or borrow, the most recent being for a tenor crumhorn. I have loaned various instruments on occasions as an encouragement to people who want to try playing them, and suspect that there may be other members who would be prepared to do the same. There are probably several of you who have unused instruments, so have a look in that cupboard or in the dusty corners of the spare room and see if there's anything you could loan or sell. The annual Early Music Exhibition took place in what seems to have become its regular location in the old Greenwich Naval College. TVEMF hosted a stand jointly with the National Early Music Association with support from other Fora, and I would like to thank all those who helped to look after the stand and especially our Secretary Victoria for doing all the organisation. Sadly I was unable to attend the Baroque Day owing to a work-related meeting, but I gather it went very well. I do intend to be at our next event, which is of South American music with Jeffrey Skidmore, as the repertoire is unusual and should present a few challenges, especially rhythmic ones. Jeffrey is a very experienced and popular director so I am looking forward to the experience.
Baroque chamber music playing day
Burnham Grammar School was invaded once again on Saturday 5th November for a TVEMF playing day: on this occasion by around 40 singers and instrumentalists who met to play baroque chamber works in a day organised by Victoria Helby.
The gathering included many 'regulars' to these baroque chamber days and half a dozen new faces who seemed to be fitting in well and didn't seem to be too fazed by the schools idiosyncratic room numbering and heating systems.
The bulk of the musicians were string and wind players, with a lesser number of wind singers, and sufficient keyboards for each parallel playing session to have keyboard continuo if required. The balance seemed right - certainly from what I saw and heard. If there are too many of one specific instrument then it can be difficult to organise practical groupings to involve everyone in interesting pieces in one-to-a-part settings, but with the right forces, and in particular enough string players, then it is possible to perform some larger baroque works (which inevitably require strings - wind only baroque works tend to be for small groups), and it was good to have sufficient numbers of these to allow several groups to play pieces such as Brandenburg 2 and 4.
If you have not experienced one of these playing days before then you will find that they are a great opportunity to play in larger groups, with different instruments and to experience a wider repertoire than you might be able to organise yourself - I certainly find this as I don't get much opportunity to get together with string players locally and really enjoy the chance to explore a different repertoire. Congratulations must go to Victoria who, as usual, had made excellent preparations for the day, persuading some people to arrive early to help organise rooms and refreshments, sorting out recommendations for music and then on the day, reworking the playing groups on the fly to contend with an unexpected player whose booking had got lost in the post. I don't know if Victoria got much opportunity for playing - I wasn't in a same session as she was - but I know how much the organisation on the day can interfere with one's plans to make music and I hope she got a chance for some good music making amongst all the arranging.
Once again, many thanks Victoria for organising such a great day.
Thanks very much Adrian, I’m glad you had a good day. I think it went particularly well this time because there were so many string players, making it possible for me to organise the larger groups which everyone enjoys. In fact I enjoyed it too and managed to get some playing in every session, which doesn’t always happen. I was only sorry that I had to be rather unsociable in the breaks while I rearranged the groups to fit in the extra players. We were very lucky that an extra keyboard player arrived on the day (not expecting to play at all), so I hope a few more will come next time. I’d particularly like to thank everyone who rallied round and arrived early to help with the setting up, after I discovered that none of the rest of the committee could come.
SWEMF Medieval Workshop and Concert
The village hall and church at North Cerney near Cirencester were the venues for the SWEMF medieval music workshop and concert held on Saturday 22 October. 25 singers and instrumentalists arrived for the 10.30 start, some having travelled considerable distances to attend, though none as far as the tutors for the day, Chris Elmes and Anne-Marie Summers. Chris, who performs with Gaita, has recently published an edition of the first 100 pieces in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a most valuable resource which many of us took the opportunity to buy, and it was this repertoire which formed the basis of the day’s playing. The first handout was a Cantiga in its original format. Although Chris outlined the relationship of the strange-looking dots and lines to modern annotation, I was nonetheless relieved to receive a copy of the same piece from his book from which to play. Anne-Marie, who performs as one half of the duo Misericordia, then gave us a guide to pronouncing the courtly language used in the Cantigas, and, thus equipped, we all launched into the first Cantiga of the day. Following the coffee break we divided into several groups, the tutors ensuring a suitable balance of instruments, singers either joining in with the instrumental groups or singing in their own group. Pipes and shawms were dispatched to the church across the valley while the rest of us made creative use of the somewhat limited space available in the village hall. The groups remained largely in their original format throughout three sessions, which gave the chance to experiment in depth with different instrument and voice combinations within the ensembles to provide variety to the pieces. Chris and Anne-Marie toured the groups, dispensing advice and their valuable insight. The final session saw everyone back in the village hall and performances of the pieces tackled during the day. The shawms and bagpipes assembled in the pub garden for a rousing finale, which even the noise from the adjacent main road could do nothing to spoil. The day’s delights were not over, however. The exquisite church was to be the venue for an evening concert by Chris and Anne-Marie of some of the Cantigas - and what a treat it was. Countless combinations of instruments were provided with Chris playing fiddles, oud, bagpipes and percussion and Anne-Marie bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, harp and percussion, as well as singing. Thor Ewing gave excellent support with narration and singing. A fitting and memorable end to the day. Thanks are due to Chris and Anne-Marie for making the day so enjoyable and to Simon Pickard for organising the event. He asked if participants would like to do something similar in the future. My answer is a definite yes and from my conversations with other participants I think I can safely say that there will be a lot of repeat bookings.
Some CDs for Christmas
Some of you may have noticed that I have been doing reviews of flute and recorder CDs for Clifford Bartlett’s Early Music Review. As there is a little space here, I thought you might be interested to hear about the ones I would have bought for myself. I will be happy to email the full review to anyone who is interested.
Handel: Sonatas for the Recorder Dorothee Oberlinger rec, Ensemble 1700. 71’31” Deutschlandfunk MA 20024 Amongst the many recordings of Handel’s recorder sonatas this one really stands out.
Devienne Flute quartets Op.66 nos 1-3, Op.16 no 3 Barthold Juikjen fl, Ryo Terakado vln, Sara Kuijken viola, Wieland Juijken cello 59’42” Accent ACC 24162 Elegant, sparkling, brilliant, a really enjoyable recording
The Naked Recorder Nikolaj Ronimus 56’24” Classico Classcd 608 Anon 14th C Lamento di Tristano, La Rotta; van Eyck: Amarilli mia bella, Wat zal men op den Avond doen; Telemann Fantasia nos. 1 & 10; J. S. Bach: Partita in a min BWV 1013; Traditional Japanese song Esashi Oiwake Absolutely my favourite this year, in spite of the title. Fantasy, fireworks, improvisation, emotions – just some of the words I used in my review. Buy it!