Tag Archives: Bach

Bach solo Partita in D minor: Alina Ibragimova at the 2015 Proms

This was quite extraordinary; transcending time and space, intimate music speaking on a global scale, part of a complete survey of the Bach solo Partitas over the course of two concerts at this year’s BBC Proms. Lithe, effortless music, played with breath-taking skill, total commitment and a profound connection to the piece by Alina Ibragimova, Bach draws the outline of humanity in filigree violin arabesques; reaching beyond the intimate nature of the solo instrument to touch every listener.

I shamelessly admit to weeping openly during the performance of the D minor Partita when it was broadcast on BBC4 recently; be careful, you might too…

Dance with raindrops: Aurora Orchestra coming to bOing! festival

The ever-inventive Aurora Orchestra will be on our doorstep at the end of this month, when they bring what promise to be magical performances to the Gulbenkian as part of the bOing! International Family Festival.

Two concerts, aimed respectively at children up to the age of four and children aged five and over, will bring to life Bach’s Goldberg Variations in a mixture of interactive activities for the whole family, including the opportunities to ”dance with raindrops, jump with sheep and make a magic potion.”

aurora-3The early years concerts take place at various times on Saturday 29 and Sun 30 August (details here), whilst the Family Concert for ages 5 and above is on Saturday 29 August at 3.45pm (details here).

Come and immerse yourself and your family in what promises to be a fascinating and spell-binding exploration of one of Bach’s most enduringly popular works.

Full details about the bOing! festival online here.

High-voltage Baroque from CantiaQuorum

An electrifying performance of the Bach Double Violin Concerto from Alexandra Reid and Kathy Shave and the musicians of CantiaQuorum was the centrepiece of a concert bursting with energy on Friday.

A rapturous ovation from an enthralled audience greeted an agile reading of Bach’s concerto that bristled with vigour – the enthusiasm shared between the soloists was reflected by the ensemble as a whole.

WP_20150220_20_02_07_ProThe evening opened with Handel’s Silete Venti, conducted by Alex Caldon, with Susanna Hurrell’s bright, spinning soprano a perfect foil for the supremely accomplished Ilid Jones on oboe; the performance deftly captured the wide range of both the drama and the melodic grace of the piece, delivered with stylish aplomb.

WP_20150220_20_05_29_ProThe second half alternated movements of Telemann’s Tafelmusik with Cage’s Living Room Music; gathered around a dining-table, various members of the ensemble took turns to wield chopsticks, cutlery and even children’s toys to realise Cage’s exploitation of household objects, at one point updating it to deploy iPhones and an iPad to reflect the twenty-first century – an energy-drive reading of a different kind.

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A fantastic evening, with an ensemble of professional players in tip-top form.

At Home Funk: CantiaQuorum back in two weeks

Our resident professional ensemble, CantiaQuorum, returns to Colyer-Fergusson in two weeks time with a programme of music based around your living-room.

220px-John_Cage_portraitLurking at the heart of a fascinating programme that include Bach’s sumptuous Concerto for Two Violins in D minor and Telemann’s Tafelmusik Suite in D is Cage’s Living Room Music, written for an unspecified quartet that plays any object or architectural feature which can readily be found in a living-room. The second movement sees the performers turn to speech, using parts of ‘The World Is Round’ by Gertrude Stein, whilst the contrasting outer movements see household objects transformed into funky percussion – less ‘Uptown Funk’ than ‘At Home Funk.’

The concert also includes Bach’s wonderful Concerto for Two Violins; I’ll leave you with the achingly-beautiful second movement, performed here live at the Proms by Rachel Podger and Andrew Manze.

Further details about the concert online here.

Bach banquet with acclaimed pioneer next week

Internationally-acclaimed harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock brings an all-Bach programme to Colyer-Fergusson Hall next Friday, 17th October, at 7.30pm.

Image: Peer Lindgreen
Image: Peer Lindgreen

A former choirboy at Canterbury Cathedral and pupil at Simon Langton School, Trevor was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by the University in 1995, and comes to Kent next week as part of its year-long fiftieth anniversary celebrations including honorary music graduates. As a harpsichordist and conductor, he is renowned for his pioneering performances on historical instruments with The English Concert, the orchestra which he founded in 1972 and led for the next thirty years.

50th-ribbon-smlNext week’s concert includes the Toccata in E minor, the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor and the French Suite No 6 in E major, and promises to be a real treat for Bach devotees. More details here.

To whet your appetite, here he is in the flamboyantly-opening Toccata in C minor, BWV 911.

Preparing for the Cathedral Concert next week

Next Saturday sees the annual Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert, in which the University Chorus and Orchestra will come together to commemorate the start of the First World War in music by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bach and Fauré.

This Sunday is our all-day rehearsal in the hall, a first combined run-through; then it’s Monday – Thursday – Friday – Saturday over the course of next week, and then Sunday for everyone to recover…

In rehearsalThe concert on the 15 March features Elgar’s Spirit of England, for which we’ll be joined by soprano Sally Silver, Fauré’s Cantique de Jean-Racine, Elgar’s arrangement of Bach’s Fantasia in C minor, and Vaughan Williams’ Symphony no.3.

Looking forward to Sunday’s Greater Coming Together; Ladies and Gentlemen of the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, we’ll see you there!

CF_Cathedral_2014

Scholars to star in Gulbenkian Theatre lunchtime concert

As part of Summer Music this term, several of the University’s Music Scholars will be starring in a lunchtime concert on Wednesday 6 June at 1.10pm.

Flautist with the University Orchestra and second-year Historian, Kathryn Redgers, will perform Bach’s Flute Sonata in G minor BWV 1020 accompanied by yours truly on the harpsichord.

Second-year soprano Marina Ivanova will sing Vivaldi’s sublime cantata, Nulla in mundo pax sincera, accompanied by the University Camerata. Marina is a member of the University Chamber Choir and Chorus, and both Marina and Kathryn have previously performed in the Scholars’ Recital as part of the Canterbury Festival each year in October. In her spare time, Marina reads Economics and Spanish!

 

Making their solo performing debuts at the concert will be first-year harpist, Emma Murton, and first-year percussionist, Carina Evans on marimba, in solo instrumental works.

Admission is free.

A great deal from not much: composing with small ideas

Take two tiny ideas: first, this one.

Add this one.

Not much to look at on paper, really.

But wait. Add a driving rhythm, an insistent pulse, and you get this:

Well, alright, perhaps there’s a little more to it than that: choice of instrumentation, texture, articulation. But that’s all it boils down to, really: two simple ideas, from which a fantastic energy is created. And the ambiguity of the C# – C natural motion in the second idea: is the piece in A major, or A minor ?

I remember the exact moment when I heard this for the first time: at a friend’s house at university; he was playing it in the living-room of his house near the river, and was playing it very loudly on an extremely good hi-fi. (Tim Ward, wherever you are: I salute you!).

Or how about this: a descending minor third.

OK, fairly straightforward. But to build a whole line from this, nay, a whole piece ? Begin stringing descending thirds and variants together, and you get this.

One of music’s great strengths is its ability to create interest from small ideas, which can be sustained over the length of an entire piece. Whether it’s a Baroque keyboard prelude, a piece of Steve Reich, or a pop song: music can unlock magic from the tiniest of blocks of material.

Bach and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers: creative with small ideas.