1. We love it
BF MD Leah is a musicologist by training and loves music and reviewing. It’s a way to express the joy that music brings.
2. We support live music
The Brits (say, in comparison with the Europeans) are not great at going out and getting involved in culture, whether that be dance, art, theatre or music. So we want you to encourage people to get out there and get involved in the rich culture that’s going on!
3. We support musicians
Sometimes the musicians we review are involved in some of our projects, so we want to support them in their other creative endeavours. It’s just being a good human really.
4. We respect music
By taking the time to write reviews it shows that we respect what people are working hard for and saying ‘this deserves to be written about’.
You can also read some of our reviews if you like: Riot Ensemble, International Rameau Ensemble, Metamorphic & Røyst Trio, Stoop Quintet, London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Want to WIN 2 International Rameau Ensemble Tickets for their concert in Oxford on February 6th?*
*Terms and Conditions Apply
Our good friends the International Rameau Ensemble are holding a Valentine’s concert at the New College Ante-Chapel on Feb 6th. Not sure whether to go or not? Read our review of their last concert here. And then go!
(Read our Riot Ensemble Review here
Missed our last concert? Wondering what to expect on Tuesday? Listen back to the live, UK premiere of Thomas Kotcheff’s That In Shadow or Moonlight Rises from our concert in Brixton East 1871 on 1st October 2015.
Last night we had the pleasure of hearing the culmination of the two day ‘International Rameau Summer School’ 2015 at No.6 Fitzroy Square.
Artistic Director Lawrence Olsworth-Peter welcomed us, explaining that one of the goals of the International Rameau Ensemble (IRE) is to make the 18th Century music of Rameau more widely available to greater audiences through a number of projects and concerts.
Renowned conductor and harpsichordist Christophe Rousset, who coached the students, told the eager audience ‘Rameau is as important as Bach, with rich harmonies and incredible woodwind writing’.
That is indeed what we were treated to, with semi-staged opera scenes and instrumental pieces. It was an enjoyable evening and it was great to see a range of Rameau’s works within one chamber concert.
We’ve heard on the grapevine that the IRE have big plans in the works, we’re going to stay tuned…
We enjoy the work of OperaUpClose.
You can read our review of their La Traviata here.
TimeOut are offering discounted tickets on Bizet’s Carmen at the Soho Theatre if purchased by midnight on August 1st! Deal.
Once again we had the privilege of attending a University College Opera production, this time J.C. Bach’s Amadis De Gaule, at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
We have seen them at work before with Acante et Cephise (Rameau), a colourful work which became known as the ‘pink opera’ due to their stunning costumes (see a photo here). This time, set in what appears to be a dark post-apocolyptic world the colours are dark, grey and torn: a ‘brown opera’. This complex story of love, loss, revenge and redemption was performed with power and emotional energy by the four leads (see below). The University College Chorus did a beautiful job adding stage movement with a warm eery sound, a timbre that was quite mesmerising. Charles Peebles did a fine job as MD with a large and conscientious orchestra.
Thanks UC Opera for a great night. Full details below.
Amadis De Gaule (An opera in three acts), Bloomsbury Theatre London, March 28th 2015, 19:30
Amadis: Lawrence Olsworth-Peter
Arcabonne: Katherine Blumenthal
Arcalaues: Nicholas Morris
Oriane: Alice Privett
Producers: Nick Randall & Gemma Charlton
Director: Jack Furness
Music Director/Conduction: Charles Peebles
(Photo: Dante Kim)
For full list please go to www.ucopera.co.uk
With an evening out in Soho, you never know what to expect. Sat in MeWe360 it was a surprisingly traditional urban setting. It is a ‘modern office’, but this space with its sofas, random chairs and a piano made a great setting for chamber music – a genre as old as music itself. It’s rare to be sitting on the floor listening to great contemporary music in such intimate surroundings and as Riot Ensemble‘s Artistic Director Aaron Holloway-Nahum introduced the evening we knew we were in for a great night.
The programme started with Felipe Lara‘s, “Livro dos Sonhos” (Book of Dreams) a song for clarinet with piano. Angular angry unisons began the piece which was full of timbral contrasts. Moments of diatonic melody spattered this sound world of harmonics, accents and frights with masterful clarinet control by clarinettist Harry Cameron-Penny. Adam Swayne on Piano played with precision and the pair play very well together.
Next up was the UK premiere of Marco Momi‘s ‘Reloading Vanishing’ for solo flute. Kate Walter played this so very engagingly. The piece calls for vocalisation, gasps, emotive outbursts as well as simultaneous flute playing. Walter’s character brought the piece alive. A Riot Ensemble trademark is to use other media in their work (see our previous review here). This evening they had a screen with information, most interestingly a preview of the score. Thus in ‘Reloading Vanishing’ it was intriguing to read the instruction ‘confidentially’ at the top of the score, getting a glimpse of the composer’s ‘intention’.*
Amy Beth Kirsten‘s ‘Speak to Me’ for pianist finished the first half, with Holloway-Nahum introducing Kirsten’s composition style as a ‘physical not intellectual’ activity. Swayne absolutely owned this piece – which is based on the myth of Echo, Narcissus and Juno – and eloquently (and helpfully) reminded the audience of the story. The music has three parts. Firstly Echo talking incessantly to distract Juno, her adulterous husband, secondly Juno cursing Echo and finally Echo frustrated that she can no longer speak. Kirsten is just a great writer. Her improvisational influences are so evident. The first section is great stream-of-consciousness for pianist in which Swayne both sings/speaks and plays. The cursing is dark and repetitive – a migraine of intensity of a curse and Swayne’s quite remarkable skill as an actor emerged as he spoke with harsh intensity. Finally when Echo is trapped and can no longer speak, the music recalls what was once spoken and Swayne (consciously or not) realised the pain on his face. Someone had taken away his power to speak. Echo tries to recall the music but can’t assert herself. This is an epic piece of music by Kirsten. The end is heartbreaking, a requiem for a voice that has been lost and a soul destroyed.
The second half opened with Augusta Read Thomas‘ ‘Capricci’ (Hummingbird Romance) a piece inspired by New Orleans jazz improvisation. It was a great dance for flute and clarinet and showed Thomas’ clear and intimate understanding of these instruments. This duet was great to observe. Cameron-Penny and Walter moved together as they played demonstrating flawless technique and great virtuosity. At moments the tonalities echoed Schoenberg just as he was beginning his 12-tone experimentation.
‘Invocation to Ate’ by Arne Gieshoff was next up, a piece focussing on obsession. Once more the range of the flute’s colours was superbly demonstrated by Walter’s excellent technique and performance.
The night finished with two trios, the first being Jose Manuel Serrano‘s ‘Espantajo de Resca’. Holloway-Nahum once more told the work’s story: music evoking the ghostly figures left on the sand and bark as the flood recedes from Serrano’s hometown. This piece is an echo of an image with haunting breezes of melody. Once again Swayne at the piano uses his voice in the work – but the eery sounds don’t add human reality to the work, rather they take it away, creating an even darker, beautiful sound. The rich sounds from Walter and Cameron-Penny developed Serrano’s world into a beautiful soundscape.
The evening’s title piece ‘The Riot’ by Jonathan Harvey finished the night, a work designed to show the (as Holloway-Nahum put it) ‘sheer virtuosity’ of the musicians and how it was ‘utterly clear how hard’ it is to play. This is a mayhem of a piece. Moments of utter diatonicism (cycle of fifths, major thirds) were interspersed with exclamation and madness. It’s actually great to hear a composer who’s not afraid to use even pulse and functional harmony every now and again – jazz influences too were clear.
It was a great concert with phenomenal music and well thought out programme. The setting was intimate and this made a big change to how the music was received: sitting comfortably with a drink in your hand is an inviting setting. It is a new (and yet so old) way to hear the music. Holloway-Nahum’s great insight into the composer’s ideas and thoughts (Harvey’s daughter Anna and Gieshoff himself were present too) made the music much more tangible and thought-provoking.
Check out the Riot Ensemble’s upcoming performances here. Well worth it for this breath of fresh contemporary musical air.
Clarinet – Harry Cameron-Penny
Piano – Adam Swayne
Flute – Kate Walter
1) Felipe Lara ‘Livro dos Sonhos’ (Book of Dreams)
2) Marco Momi ‘Reloading Vanishing’
3) Amy Beth Kirsten ‘Speak to Me’
4) Augusta Read Thomas – ‘Capricci’ (Hummingbird Romance)
5) Arne Gieshoff – ‘Invocation to Ate’
6) Jose Manuel Serrano – ‘Espantajo de Resca’
7) Jonathan Harvey – ‘The Riot’
*there is no way on earth we are going to get into a discussion on the realisation of the composer’s intention and whether or not it is a valid idea. This is just a review. Hence the quotation marks. The end. ~BF
We’ve heard that some of the fine people at the International Rameau Ensemble are putting on a Summer School in the very beautiful Ingestre Hall this July 21st-26th 2014. So, if you’re into all things Rameau, click here for the brochure, or head over to RameauSchool.eu….
We’re very excited to be attending the next concert featuring the International Rameau Ensemble this Friday, 21st February 2014. We interviewed their Artistic Director, Lawrence Olsworth-Peter, back in October. You can read it here.
2014 is the 250th Anniversary year of this fabulous French composer, and this is a rare and great chance to hear the beautiful motets: ‘In Convertendo’, ‘Quam Dilecta’ and ‘Deus Nost Refugium’. These three works are based on the Psalms and are performed by some of the world’s leading Early Music Performers.
You can hear them preview their work on BBC 3’s In Tune with Sean Rafferty on Tuesday 18th. It will be available to hear, here.
See you this Friday at St George’s Hanover Square. Ticket information is below. We can’t wait!