Chamber music

A few days of wonderful chamber music – Elgar’s ravishing war-torn Piano Quintet with the Hampden Quartet, and then Beethoven and Ravel trios in a newly-formed piano trio with Jamie Campbell and Cara Berridge.

A week of song

Two delightful song concerts in London this week: Brahms’ Four Serious Songs and Richard Rodney Bennett’s Songs Before Sleep (settings of nursery rhyme texts) with bass Oliver Hunt took the phrase ‘the sublime to the ridiculous’ to a new level; and then Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben with mezzo Ciara Hendrick was in a venue so cold we had to perform, glamorously, in coats and scarves. Inspiring to start the year with a week of such wonderful songs.

Laetare Singers workshop weekend

Back from another workshop weekend conducting the Laetare Singers in the depths of the Somerset Quantocks. It was great to return to work with them for fourth time, catching up with familiar faces rather than always meeting new ones. Joined this time by assistant conductor Oliver Walker (Head of Choral Music at Solihull School), we worked on music ranging from contemporary items by James Macmillan, Alex L’Estrange and local Bristol-based composer David Bednall, to Rheinberger and Palestrina. What a happy combination of good scenery, good food, and good music.

Performance videos

Southwell Music Festival has released a series of performance films from last year’s festival. Enjoy the whole selection here; meanwhile here are three to whet your appetite:

Gurney: Sleep
Live performance from the Southwell Music Festival 2014, from a programme entitled ‘To Those Who Died’, marking the centenary of the outbreak of The First World War.
State Chamber, Southwell | 24th August 2014
with Marcus Farnsworth (baritone)

Brahms: Liebeslieder Walzer Op 52 (ix) Nein, es ist nicht auszukommen (x) Schlosser auf, und mache Schlösser
Live performance from the opening ‘Chamber Classics’ concert of the inaugural Southwell Music Festival.
State Chamber, Southwell | 22nd August 2014
with Alison Rose (soprano), Carris Jones (mezzo-soprano), Nick Pritchard (tenor), William Townend (baritone), James Baillieu (piano)

Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge (ii) From far, from eve and morning
Live performance at the Southwell Music Festival 2014.
State Chamber, Southwell | 24th August 2014
with Andy Staples (tenor), Hannah Dawson (violin), Natalie Klouda (violin), Ruth Nelson (viola), Karel Bredenhorst (cello)

Messiah in Budapest

Having performed Messiah and Belshazzar around France with The King’s Consort over the summer, it is great to return to Messiah with much the same team, this time in cold but beautiful Budapest. It really is a joy to return to music of this era, when most of my diet now is from 1750 onwards!

Champs Hill recording

Oboist James Turnbull and I have just finished recording our second disc at Champs Hill. Our first disc there, ‘The English Oboe: Rediscovered’, was very well received: ‘there is no disputing the technical facility of James Turnbull or the warm, sensitive pianism of Libby Burgess’ from Stephen Pritchard in the Observer (complete review here).

The new disc is again focused on English music, but this time featuring more off-the-beaten-track repertoire by contemporary and recent composers Jonathan Dove, Helen Grime, Anthony Powers, Richard Rodney Bennett, and David Matthews. The programme features lots of influences of airs, blues and dances… Watch this space for the title of the disc!

Meanwhile, here’s a track from The English Oboe: Rediscovered – the first movement, Con moto, of Rubbra’s Sonata in C for oboe and piano, Op 100.

University coaching

Looking forward to being back in Canterbury this week, giving another masterclass to Canterbury Christ Church’s music students, and leading a discussion on the realities of life as a freelance musician – warts and all! This is such an enlightened and important part of their degree education. James Turnbull and I will also give a recital in the beautiful St Gregory’s chamber music venue.

Unexpected Dichterliebe

Grateful thanks to Marcus Farnsworth for stepping in for last night’s Konstellation programme in Dumfries. So good to reprise Dichterliebe a few years since last performing it together!

Berkeley Ensemble recording

Just to keep things busy in the first week as Head of Keyboard at Eton, this week has additionally been spent recording with the Berkeley Ensemble in Oxford. The disc will feature a survey of Lennox Berkeley’s music, from the reasonably well known (such as the Sextet) to the never previously performed (including the Sonatine for clarinet and piano, discovered by the ensemble in a notebook in the British Library). The disc will be released on Resonus Classics next year, and was recorded by the ever-excellent Adam Binks.

Southwell Music Festival

Last weekend saw the incredible inaugural Southwell Music Festival, in Nottinghamshire. There was an amazing buzz to the event, with the main concerts all sold out, wonderful warm audiences, and joyful and committed music-making with brilliant colleagues. Have a look at their gallery for a flavour of the weekend. Very much looking forward to next year already.