December 2017

Dear ECMC Member,

We hope to see you on 11th December for some playing followed by festive eats and wine. Do please bring your instrument, plus a food contribution if you feel so inclined.

Please look at the AGM Minutes, sent in the latest email. For the first time in many years Hugh Mather actually presided – as the main guy in the Friends of St Mary’s he is effectively our landlord as well as our President, which has been a beneficial situation with very rare hiccoughs (none in the last year).

John has already told you that Crowood Press has recently published  A PLAYER’S GUIDE TO CHAMBER MUSIC by Paul Jeffery.  I haven’t seen it; it sounds similar to the “yellow book” by Harold Haynes, of which the latest edition came out in 2006, but includes illustrations – whether these actually add to its usefulness is another matter.

Copies are available to the Club at 35% discount off the retail price with free carriage to your club address.  Minimum order quantity is two copies.  Alternatively members can order via our website and follow the link and receive 20% discount off this book and any other books on the site.

 Now for the programme, the first part of which consists of just one mighty work.

The run of Brandenburg Concerti which we are planning opens in December with No.5. They are of course a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721, although they were probably never played at his court and did not get the current title until 150 years later. They had been written from 1708 onwards while he was working at Cöthen and probably revised for presentation.

The fifth Brandenburg is thought to have been the last written, intended as a vehicle to show off the new Cöthen harpsichord. Bach presumably played the solo part himself. The Fifth is the most historically important of the Brandenburgs, as it is the earliest known instance in which the harpsichord is elevated out of the role of continuo accompaniment to solo status. While the other Brandenburgs held little interest for the following generations, the Fifth is the only one to have circulated after Bach’s death (in copies by others) as it spoke to their interest in the emerging solo keyboard concerto. One almost feels sorry for the other two instruments, since throughout, the harpsichord not only holds its own but keeps escaping its role as accompanist to override and grab the spotlight from the solo flute and violin especially in the huge cadenzas.

 Li Lin Teo takes the very prominent keyboard part (on the piano), and the other soloists are Saori Howse (violin) and Theresa Cory (flute).

The chamber orchestra at the moment consists of:

  • Violins: Richard Vinter, Kate Day, Lowri Norris.
  • Violas: David Smith, Hilary Potts
  • Cello: Paul Robinson
  • Bass: Linda Shanks

It is nicely balanced as it is, but one more of everything (except bass) would be fine; I expect there to be other string players available because of the Play-in, so it is first come first served, i.e. let me know in advance if you want to play in the Bach.

After that, the Play-in is of course for all-comers, the more the merrier. Liz has asked for early warning, especially from wind players, please make her task easier by doing so, as she does make every effort to make sure there is a part for everyone. Reply to her direct. I have left it to Liz to describe her arrangements for the Play-in:

 “I decided to have early music this year so trawled through the Petrucci website.

  1. O Nata Lux  by Tallis – originally a choral piece which I’ve always loved.

O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
dignare clemens supplicum
laudes precesque sumere.
Qui carne quondam contegi
dignatus es pro perditis,
nos membra confer effici
tui beati corporis.


O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with kindness deign to receive
the praise and prayer of suppliants.
You who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be made members
of your blessed body.

  1. Pavane by Purcell . This is the companion to the Chaconne we played before, & is surprisingly different, & chromatic. I took some outrageous liberties with the arrangement to make it longer & in Rondo form. The wind & string episodes contrast with the returning theme, which necessitated the creation of a few links. I hope the Sharma bars merge with Purcell as well as can be expected, & that he won’t spin in his grave.
  1. Canzona by Bach. This appeared in Petrucci as a fugal string quartet, so I just added wind parts.
  1. The Festive Season”. This is the last movement of a wind quintet I wrote a few years ago, ‘Minutes of the Year’ in which there are 2 movements for each season – each lasting a minute. In this 8th movement I’ve crammed 10 Christmas tunes in counterpoint into a minute, & also the New Year’s Eve midnight chimes. We won’t be playing it quite up to speed so it will last a bit longer than a minute. If you can name all the tunes your prize will be that you don’t have to help with the clearing up at the end of the evening.”

We hope you enjoy these arrangements.

 And a merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all ECMC members and friends,



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