** Positive Points about Interesting Concerts**

Season - 2017/2018

(as reviewed by Roger Swann )

See also reviews of other seasons

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10th Feb 2018 - 19:30 hrs - Helix Ensemble - Mark Heron (Musical Director) - Caroline Taylor (Soprano)

St Andrews Church, Countesthorpe, Leicestershire

Roger Swann = horn

Still studying but already possessing a the ability to express the lyrics and the music to the audience (without it feeling at all forced or dominant) Caroline Taylor is clearly a name to watch out for. Backed up by some energetic (where appropriate) string playing in Britten's "Les Illuminations" she captivated the good sized audience.

Ms Taylor also provided the class end to the chamber orchestra arrangement of Mahler's Symphony No. 4 that formed the second half of the concert.

Still studying, but already possessing a the ability to express the lyrics and the music to the audience (without it feeling at all forced or dominant), Caroline Taylor is clearly a name to watch out for. Backed up by some energetic (where appropriate) string playing in Britten's "Les Illuminations"her singing entranced the good sized audience.

The concert was promoted by the enterprising organisation of volunteers, Active Arts. Their confidence in programming music worthy of performance that stretches their audience (as well as entertain and move) is repayed by the large numbers of supporters their events attract.

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24th Jan 2018 - 19:30 hrs - The London Sinfonietta - "Unfinished Business - We're 50"

Royal Festival Hall, London

50 years to the day since the first concert given by the London Sinfonietta this evening was always going to have some additional emotional weight. The first half was conducted by one of the founders: David Atherton with his original founding colleague, Nicholas Snowman also in the audience (he came on stage to wish the ensemble well for the next fifty years).

Starting with music by Birtwistle (who was also in the hall), Stravinsky and Ligeti played to the highest levels of perfection (as always) did mean that the three world premiers and one "London Premier" in the second half had a tough act to follow. Never was it more obvious what a privilege it is for composers to have their music premiered by players of the London Sinfonietta. If it doesn't sound good when they play it, it never will !

A neat solution to the conundrum of how to end such an event came in the form of "Encore", a set of variations on a Hornpipe by Purcell, each featuring a different soloist from the ensemble and each composed by a different composer, all being curated by John Woolrich. On paper this sounds chaotic but in practice it all melded together rather well.

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21st Jan 2018 - 15:00 hrs Knighton Chamber Orchestra - Paul Jenkins (conductor) - Charlotte Howes (soprano) - Liam Karai (baritone)

Fraser Noble Hall, Leicester

Mahler's Kindertontenlieder is a rarity on the concert platform. It must be significantly rarer that it is used as the opening piece in a concert and perhaps the first time ever that it was followed without a break by Ravel's Pavane pour une infante defunte. Such an innovative plan makes the concert a challenge for the first horn (handled with consumate assurance by Roz Saunders) but actually did make very good musical sense. Charlotte Howes emphasised the melancholy of the songs, saving her passionate power for the storm in the final song.

The concert also featured the first performance of KCO cellist Anne Mee's work "Tralee Jane Suite" scored for strings, flute and clarinet. This substantial piece (three movements) was attractively crafted, included a good ominous bass line at the end of the slow movement and finished with a jig in 7/8 time that still managed to sound Scottish! A neighbour in the audience remarked that "the 7/8 'worked' rather than feeling as if it was written in the unusual time signature just to show off"). An impressive achievement by the composer.

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20th Jan 2018 - 19:30 hrs - The Voyage of the Stinky Cheese - The Main Street Theatre Company

Village Hall, Great Glen, Leicestershire

This "perfectly pongy pirate pantomine" was great fun for all the audience. All the adult leads were excellent, the one liners were corney and there was lots of singing and dancing and custard pies.

Great to see lots of younger folk involved too. Little stars, Mya and Oliver Kent (playing "Wiff and Pong") were magical and the solo singing by Gemma Salmon (playing Khloe) was particularly expressive with good intonation.

Sound and lighting cues were very tight throughout. It was wonderful that the company chose to avoid any amplification so that the subtlety of the performer's acting and singing could be enjoyed by all.

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13th Jan 2018 - 19:00 hrs - The Charnwood Orchestra - Nic Fallowfield

Humphrey Perkins Community Centre, Barrow upon Soar

Roger Swann = horn

The Charnwood orchestra's regular "New Years" concert always seems to include some rarely performed gems and this year's was no exception.

The first half started with Ferdinand Herold's overture to his opera "Zampa" and the first piece of the second half was Richard Heuberger's Overture: "Der Opernball"

Both pieces are packed through with good tunes and fast tempos. Both fitted perfectly with the remainder of the concert programme, making the whole event a joyous occasion for the audience

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16th Dec 2017 - 18:45 hrs - Festival of Light

Borrowash Methodist Church, Borrowash, Derbyshire

Roger Swann = sound desk

Your reviewer's first ever outing as a sound engineer went fairly smoothly. It was great to be part of this annual Christmas event which show cases the talented violin pupils of Sarah Cresswell and gives everyone (of all ages) the chance to sing some carols.

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13th Dec 2017 - 18:30 hrs - Semiramide

The Royal Opera House , Covent Garden, London.

Rossini's music is exquisite from start to finish. Some great singing (particularly the duets between Semiramide and Assur (Joyce Didonato and Michele Pertusi (trouser role)) on stage but the real star of the show was the orchestra's piccolo player who played a very prominent part with delicacy and precision which was just out of this world.

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2nd Dec 2017 - 16:30 hrs - Winter Concert II - Leicester-shire Schools Music Service

Holy Trinity Church, Leicester

A good way to get into a Christmas mood is by enjoying inspiring performances by young people. If some of them sport tinsell on their hair, so much the better ! Highlights of this pleasurable event included the String Sinfonia (director: Mike Shaw)[ especially the six violas ] and the tight rhythmic performance by the LMCT Junior Percussion Ensemble (director: Kieren O'Riordan) [ especially "Unity" arranged by one of the members of the ensemble, Oliver Clarke ].

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25th Nov 2017 - 19:30 hrs - Helix Ensemble - David Greed (Musical Director and Violin) - David Aspin (Viola) -

St Mary's Church, Clifton, Nottinghamshire

Roger Swann = horn

David Greed does know how to keep a relaxed atmosphere yet still get some great musical performances from his musicians. Working with his Opera North colleague, David Aspin for Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante allowed everyone to enjoy the wonderful dialog that Mozart offers between the two soloists.

It was great fun to have the chance to play Haydn's Symphony No. 22 (The Philosopher) with the rare orchestration of two cor anglais. What an awesome sound ! (Vicky Price and Anne Allcock)

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23rd Nov 2017 - 19:30 hrs - The Secret Theatre

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, London

A new play by Anders Lustgarten set in the time of Elizabeth I and showing how corrupt the politics of the day were. Interesting but one never really got to the point where one cared about any of the characters so it felt a little lacking in dramatic tension.

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18th Nov 2017 - 19:30 hrs - The Charnwood Orchestra - Nic Fallowfield - Allan Schiller (piano)

Emmanuel Church, Loughborough

Roger Swann = horn

A good sized audience enjoyed Allan Schiller's performance of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. It was great to play this work with someone who so obviously enjoyed the chance to play to his audience.

The concert also included the fifth symphony by Glazunov with it's exquisite second movement perhaps being the highlight of this rarely performed work.

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17th Nov 2017 - 19:30 hrs - The Tim Kliphuis Trio

St Catharine's Church, Houghton on the Hill

An awesome evening of subtle (but not academic) playing from three musicians with a very obvious empathy for each other's playing style and for the music they presented. Much of the music evolved from borrowed sources, but it did so in a way that made organic sense (always a feel of moving forward and developing ideas) and yet still remained true to the original.

Guitarist Nigel Clark (playing on a conventional classical guitar) was amazingly fleet-of-foot in some virtuosic solos and it was all very sensitively underpinned by bass player Roy Percy and his plywood travelling bass.

To get a trio of this calibre to perform in Houghton on the Hill was a real coup for the Houghton Music Club.

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4th Nov 2017 - 18:00 hrs - The London Sinfonietta - "Turning Points: Berio"

Kings Place, London

After too long a break your reviewer finally got a chance to get to hear the London Sinfonietta again. Celebrating their 50th Season this concert had an additional significance as it was the last concert for John Constable as the ensemble's "Emeritus Principal Piano". John Constable was the last remaining ensemble member who was in the original line up fifty years ago. A remarkable achievement by a remarkable pianist and gentleman.

The concert was divided into two distinct parts. Firstly there was a chance to enjoy amateur and students playing alongside the top professionals, something that would definitely have appealed to Berio. The violinists selected from teh Waltham Forest Music Service and the Kuumba Youth Orchestra visibly enjoyed working with Darragh Morgan as they took it in turns to play Berio's violin duets. Another hightlight was Paul Silverthorne's solo viola in Berio's E si fussi pisci. His tone here was warm and sunny and a perfect fit for Berio's music.

Secondly the concert moved into a rather more typical London Sinfonietta style with virtuosic performances of virtuosic repertoire. Not for the first time, Timothy Lines demonstrated subtle and hauntingly beautiful control of his clarinet in Berio's solo clarinet work Lied.

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28th Oct 2017 - 19:30 hrs - The City Of Leicester Singers - The Charnwood Orchestra - Richard Archer - Caroline Palmer (soprano) - Andrew Ashwin (baritone)

Church of St. James the Greater, Leicester

Roger Swann = horn

The concert provided a chance to enjoy the rarely performed Te Deum by Dvorák. This does have a good rousing ending !

The main work in the programme was Brahms sublime German Requiem. The very comprehensive concert programme indicated that Andrew Ashwin's health is as good as his voice: he has successfully completed the iron man triathlon.

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15th Oct 2017 - 15:00 hrs Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra - Mark Heron (conductor) - Ben Goldscheider (horn)

Albert Hall, Nottingham

A chance to hear the BBC Young Musician brass finalist, Ben Goldscheider playing Strauss 2 was definitely something not to be missed. This young man makes a wonderful "Alexander" horn sound. It was a joy to hear him "waltz through" this fantastic but fiendishly tricky concerto.

Doing exactly what quality amateur orchestras should be doing, the NPO programmed a less frequently performed symphony as the second half of the concert. They played Nielson's 5th Symphony with great style, getting the swinging phrasing that is so distinctive of the composer in the glorious long phrases perfectly; they also captured the pianissimo agitated but insecure moments too.

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14th Oct 2017 - 19:30 hrs Operatic Arias - Derek Williams (conductor) - Il Bel Quatrto Vocal Quartet - Naomi Quant (soprano)

Beeston Parish Church, Beeston, Nottingham

Roger Swann = horn

Arranged as part of the Oxjam Beeston Music Festival (with all proceeds going to Oxfam) this concert was a chance to play some of the great operatic show pieces. The huge task of putting this all together was down to Geoff Harbach (the bass of the Il Bel Quatro quartet). The singers relished the chance to sing some of these great tunes with orchestral backing and guest soprano, Naomi Quant, with her professionally trained soprano voice was just the icing on the cake.

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30th Sept 2017 - 19:30 hrs Knighton Chamber Orchestra - Paul Jenkins (conductor) - Richard Meads (Tuba) - Fenella Humphreys (violin)

Fraser Noble Hall, Leicester

Roger Swann = horn (Shostakovich)

Paul Jenkins is never one to shy away from varied concert programming or programmes where the real meat of the performance is in the last piece played.

This evening the rarity was the American Arthur Frankenpohl's Tuba Concerto. A short, tuneful work which allowed soloist Richard Meads to demonstrate is technical skill in the entire range of the tuba.

An enjoyable performance of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (narrator Andrew Radford) featured various young children acting out the roles of the story. It was very charming and also gave youngsters and parents a chance to sample what was to follow.

What followed was certainly worth sampling! Fenella Humphreys gave a stunning performance of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1. From the siberian intensity of the opening movement to the terrifyingly fast scherzo through the elaborate cadenza and with the climax of the finale every note carried emotional weight. The audience, like the players, were shell shocked.

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23rd Sept 2017 - 19:30 hrs - The Charnwood Orchestra - Nic Fallowfield - Timothy Taylorson (flute)

Holy Trinity Church, Barrow upon Soar

Continuing their tradition of opening the season with a chamber orchestra programme, this concert included a very energetic "Dance of the Furies" by Gluck, surely the inspiration for some of Wagner's more energetic string writing?.

The concert ended with a joyful account of Schubert's fifth symphony which included a delightfully playful rubato in the third movment trio.

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22nd Sept 2017 - 19:30 hrs - Leicester International Music Festival - Event 4 - LIMF Festival Ensemble

Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester

The Leicester International Music Festival continues to delivery chamber music of the highest quality in Leicester.

From the opening bars to the final chord Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva performance of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV582 as arranged by Max Reger had power, weight and depth as well as great precision

The same could equally be said for the festival ensembles performance of Schumann's Piano Quintet in E flat Op 44. (really gritty tone from violist Richard O'Neil).

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See also reviews of other seasons

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