Our concert on Sat 28th April will be the final concert of our 2017/18 season and you might be forgiven for thinking that we've saved the best 'till last!
Trio Shaham, Erez Wallfisch consists of three of the finest musicians in Europe today. The are currently on a UK concert tour and Saturday 28th April is the last day of their tour so we were very fortunate to secure them for Whitstable.
Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch was founded in 2009 and comprises three of the finest international instrumentalists performing today. Playing chamber music together at the Pablo Casals Prades Festival Hagai Shaham and Raphael Wallfisch recognised an immediate musical synergy. Arnon Erez joined them for trio concerts in Lucerne and the Netherlands later that year and the Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch was established. Since 2009 the Trio have performed, broadcast and recorded widely throughout Europe and Israel, giving concerts in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France, Israel and Spain. They perform regularly at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and will return there for performances in 2017/18 season. Similarly, they have been chosen by the Wigmore Hall to present the complete Beethoven Piano Trios in 2020, Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year. I think that probably speaks for itself!
Their programme for Whitstable includes:
You may like to watch this short video featuring the trio in rehearsal, in concert and backstage at London’s Wigmore Hall (June 2013).
We particularly thank our sponsors Roger and Heather Parry and Pockocks Solicitors of Whitstable who have been very generous in their support for this concert. Our grateful thanks are especially due to Canterbury Arts Council for their sustained support over many years.
We will be finishing our current season on a high so I very much hope you will be able to join us for this very special concert.
The Lisa Bucknell Trio Concert
In this penultimate concert of the season, the Lisa Bucknell Trio performed works written for a less traditional ensemble formation: viola-clarinet-piano, and what a treat it was!
The three Australian musicians displayed their personal and musical connections from the moment they walked on stage and throughout their performance. The friendly dynamic between the players was evident especially in Mozart’s ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio, K. 498.
The programme was well balanced, with works by Schumman, Bruch, Mozart and a contemporary piece written by Huw Watkins in 2011 named ‘Speak Seven Seas’, in which the trio expressed its meaning effortlessly, considering its technical and textural difficulties.
Sharing similar ranges and timbres, the colours in the viola and clarinet complimented each other effectively, especially in the solo passages from the selection of Bruch’s Eight Pieces, Op. 83.
The rare opportunity to hear this trio was a musically enlightening occasion, made into an even more pleasurable experience as they entertained an appreciative audience.
Ana Vandepeer, BMus(Hons)
We are delighted to welcome The Lisa Bucknall Trio ( Lisa Bucknall Viola, Chad Vindin Piano and Som Howie Clarinet) to play at our next concert.
A clarinet-viola-piano trio differs from the traditional piano trio in that the viola and the clarinet share roughly the same range. The combination of viola and clarinet is thus distinguished by the timbre (tone quality or colour) of the instruments rather than register (high versus low ranges, like violin and cello). W A Mozart was the first to write for this combination of instruments with his Kegelstatt Trio, K.498 (1786). The other two most notable works for this distinctive combination of instruments is the Schumann’s Märchenerzälungen, and Max Bruch’s Eight Pieces. Each of these three masterpieces feature in our concert on 31st March.
The fourth piece in this concert is Speak Seven Seas by the British composer Huw Watkins. In 2011 Huw Watkins was invited to be Composer in Residence at the “Spannungen” Chamber Music Festival in Heimbach, Germany. As part of the residency, Watkins was commissioned to write a new work for viola, clarinet and piano, which was entitled Speak Seven Seas. It showcases Watkins’s propensity to create an unselfconsciously lyrical flow of material and to balance it with a consciously meticulous craftsmanship. This trio has an apparently easy ebb and flow, but its dramatic tension was manipulated with the same unerring control.
Lisa Bucknell began her studies on viola after winning a scholarship at the Sydney Conservatorium Open Academy, and has completed a Master of Performance with Distinction at the Royal College of Music. She was a prize-winner at the North London Festival of Music, and has extensive orchestral experience. She has performed in prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Opera House, Cadogan Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. Lisa, Chad and Som all studied for their Bachelor’s degrees at the Open Academy at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, before they each relocated to the UK.
This delightful combination of instruments in the hands of such consummate musicians promises to be one of the highlights of this current season.
The Maxwell Quartet Concert
There was a particular sense of expectation about this month’s concert, as the Maxwell Quartet had originally been due to perform in January but had to postpone their Whitstable appearance due to the insertion of an extra international engagement in the Netherlands.
They were certainly worth waiting for: this proved to be an evening of chamber music at its very best, with string quartet playing of the highest order. The artists had all been close friends since childhood, making music together as they grew up together in Scotland, and this seemed to give them a special degree of rapport with each other. Not only was there was a homogeneity of age but also to some extent of appearance; all four were on the hirsute side, sporting four beards and a ponytail between them! Even their all-black dress code was given a quirky twist by the violist Elliott Perks who sported some brightly patterned socks that put one in mind of sailing boats. Meanwhile, much entertainment was to be had watching the expressive face and mobile eyebrows of 2nd violinist George Smith, and following the hyper-lively body language of cellist Duncan Strachan, whose balletic movement whilst seated not infrequently included lifting both feet off the ground at once!
The Maxwell Quartet’s programme included works from the late 18th century, latish 19th century and early 20th century, with a contrasting first half of Haydn (Op 76 no.2) and Ravel (Quartet in F major), followed after the interval by Tchaikovsky’s 1st Quartet. The performers brought out the full humour and quirkiness of the Haydn, imbuing it with both delicacy and sparkle, but the effortlessness of their ensemble was on best show in the Ravel, which unfolded with a wonderful degree of fluency and a sensuous, easygoing lyricism. Ravel’ s Quartet occupies a distinctive soundworld, making use (inter alia) of the octatonic scale, and this performance transported us into some truly magical realms.
The quartet’s rendition of the Tchaikovsky, though also most enjoyable, perhaps fell a touch short of the extremely high bar they had set themselves with the pre-interval repertoire. While the outer movements were convincingly rendered, the famous Andante cantabile really needed to sing more, and could have done with a stronger melodic line from 1st violinist Colin Scobie; for my money, the movement didn’t feel quite relaxed enough. The Scherzo & Trio were suitably vigorous with the sense of dance well captured, but would have perhaps benefited from greater dynamic light and shade.
We were treated to a delightful encore in the shape of some Scottish and Irish folk music (the violinists swapping positions with each other at this point). This was a brilliant way of rounding off the evening and sending the audience home with a spring in their step.
All told, it was a privilege to experience such a superb evening’s music-making, and the Maxwell Quartet’s evident enjoyment of their repertoire, and of each other’s company, proved infectious in the best possible sense! We wish this young quartet well as they continue to conquer the heights of the chamber music world.
Artistic Director, Music on the Green
1st Prizewinner and Audience Prizewinner at the 9th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition in 2017, and hailed as “brilliantly fresh, unexpected and exhilarating” by The Scottish Herald, and "superb storytelling by four great communicators" by The Strad Magazine, the Maxwell Quartet is now firmly regarded as one of Britain's finest string quartets, with a strong connection to their folk music heritage and a commitment to bringing together wide-ranging projects and programmes to expand the string quartet repertoire.
For more information about the quartet click on Artists and scroll down to the photo of The Maxwell Quartet where you will also find more videos of their playing.
Make sure this concert is in your diary. One not to be missed!
We are starting the second half of our 2017/18 season with a flute and piano recital by the flautist Daniel Shao and pianist Daniel King-Smith.
The flautist Daniel Shao was born in 1995, and is currently studying for an MA at the Royal Academy of Music in London under professor Samuel Coles, supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.Before this, Daniel read for BA in music at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, from where he graduated with first class honours. He previously attended the Purcell School, and has participated in many masterclasses to flautists such as Denis Bouriakov, Rachel Brown, Michael Cox, Sophie Cherrier, Gareth Davies, and Kersten McCall.
Daniel often plays as an orchestral flautist including as principal flute with the Britten-Pears Orchestra, Janus Ensemble and Oxford University Orchestra, and was co-principal of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the London Schools Symphony. He was selected for the London Symphony Orchestra Academy 2015, and this year has successful auditioned for the Music Academy of the West and Lucerne Festival Academy.
The pianist Daniel King Smith has given concerts all over the world as both soloist and accompanist. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won the Harold Craxton and Max Pirani prizes for Chamber Music and others for his all-round musical ability. His teachers were Piers Lane, Ruth Nye and Vanessa Latarche. Accompaniment and chamber music are a major part of Daniel’s life and he has been staff accompanist at both Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music Junior Departments and at the Purcell School leading to concerts for Prince Charles, at the Wigmore Hall and at the Royal Albert Hall. He also regularly accompanies masterclasses and end of year recitals at the London conservatoires and is often official accompanist for the Countess of Munster Trust auditions.
It's a delightful experience in the winter months to come to a concert of live chamber music and this programme, full of colour and delightful music will definitely cheer you up with thoughts of the spring and summer to come.
Bartholomew LaFollette and Caroline Palmer
Playing to a full audience at the Methodist Church in Whitstable, Bartholomew LaFollette (cello) and Caroline Palmer (piano) galvanised listeners both (very) young and old. In the evening’s well-balanced programme, ranging from lyrical and meditative to energetic and furious, they offered pieces as diverse as Stravinsky’s Suite italienne (compiled and transcribed by the composer in collaboration with Gregor Piatigorsky from his own ballet Pulcinella), Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 (BMW 1009), Brahms’s Four Serious Songs, op. 121 and Grieg’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, op. 36.
LaFollete in particular maintained his sensitive virtuosity throughout the demanding programme, which enabled him to create a sense of consistency that spanned even strongly contrasting pieces.
Almost exactly two hundred years separate Suite italienne (1925; based on a work that was at first – and falsely – attributed to the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi) and Bach’s cello suite (one of six, composed presumably between 1717–23) which were presented in the first half of the concert. Both pieces may share musical features associated with the baroque period. But the neo-classical and neo-baroque style of Stravinsky’s suite with its baroque themes and classical textures, yet often innovatively voiced chords, progressive harmonies and rhythms differs significantly from the simple motoric rhythms, often monophonic texture and less chromatic harmonisation of Bach’s suite in C major. In his captivating performance, LaFollete sensitively and compellingly articulated the different characters of each piece. Palmer’s accompaniment in the Suite italienne was no less accomplished and she convincingly retained an infectiously enthusiastic and delicate touch even whilst playing percussive phrases, such as some of the brisk figures of the Tarantella.
The second half of the concert opened with Brahms’ Four Serious Songs (Vier ernste Gesänge), a cycle of four songs on biblical texts originally composed for bass and piano shortly before the composer’s death. Transcribed for cello, the solo line was taken by LaFollette. The cellist achieved a true cantabile sound which successfully emulated the phrasing, profundity and emotional clarity of the human voice. The despair, resignation and hope expressed in the four songs was complemented by Grieg’s cello sonata in A minor. Charged with a similar frustrated anger and pensiveness, the Norwegian composer’s virtuosic writing not only requires complete technical fluency and intimate understanding of musical emotion from the cellist, but also from the pianist. Palmer glided over the technical issues of the piece with such ease and professionalism and interpreted the musical lines with such perceptiveness that the primarily accompanying piano part of the previous two pieces with piano and cello instrumentation rose to the equal and fantastic grandeur of the cello part.
In what was an absorbing and enlightening concert, LaFollette and Palmer presented their musical offering with great aplomb and sheer brilliance. This was an evening of pure pleasure.
Timon Staehler, Music Scholar,
St Edmund's School Canterbury
A reminder for your diaries that the concert on Sat 25th November will feature the cellist Bartholomew LaFollette.
Bartholomew will be making two changes to the programme published in our brochure. The Bach Suite No. 4 in E flat Major will be replaced by the Bach Suite No.3 in C Major and the Schubert Arpeggione Sonata by the Stravinsky Suite Italienne - a virtuoso showpiece for cello and piano.
Just 10 days to go before our next concert so I hope the date is firmly in your diary!
We are very please to welcome the wonderful Irish pianist Michael McHale who's programme includes the Beethoven Sonata in C sharp minor ("The Moonlight"), a number of beautiful virtuosic pieces by Chopin including the F minor Ballade and Mussorgsky's Picture at an Exhibition.
Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician.
He has performed as a soloist with the Minnesota, Hallé, Moscow Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, the London Mozart Players, and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood Festival, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest. 2016/17 performances include concerto performances with the City of London Sinfonia and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida, and a début concert at the Tokyo Spring Festival. Future engagements include a début in the Dublin National Concert Hall's International Concert Series performing the Schumann Concerto with the City of London Sinfonia.
This concert is being sponsored by Gill Smyth and is dedicated to the memory of Anthony Copley who died in July 2016. Anthony was a great friend of Whitstable Music Society and greatly enjoyed attending our concerts particularly the piano recitals so I'm sure he would have appreciated this concert in his memory.
Hope to see you at the concert.