September 2017 concert

The first concert of this season is coming up on September 11th.

The programme is available here.

Andrew Lewandowski and David Smith will start off the evening with Heinrich Bärmann’s Adagio in D flat major for Clarinet and Piano. Heinrich Joseph Bärmann (1784 – 1847) was a German clarinet virtuoso of the Romantic era who is generally considered as being not only an outstanding performer of his time, but highly influential in the creation of several important composers’ works for his instrument, e.g. those of Weber as below. His style was near enough to that of Wagner for some of his work to be misattributed.

Next we will have another duo. Duo Diapason is Stuart McGowan, Mandolin, and John Maw, Mandola. I have copied here their own programme note.

“There are four pieces in our programme for today. The first is by Giovanni Battista Gervasio, (1725-1785) and is his Sonata a Mandolino e Basso. The piece is in two movements, both marked Allegro. The transcription is by Stuart, from the scanned copy in the Petrucci music library. Being a handwritten original has meant that some thought had to be given to the exact notation – it is not uncommon to find significant copyist’s errors or faults with the original image. The development sections did contain some interesting use of accidentals – hopefully these have been satisfactorily resolved.

We follow that with the Sonata a due Violini soli by Johann Vierdanck (1605-1646). What is increasingly obvious is that throughout musical history the Mandolin has been a worthy counterpart for the violin, and was often notated as an alternative instrumentation for pieces, and so we have “borrowed” this piece which we feel works particularly well for plucked strings.

Its character is very much that of a “conversation” which is why our next piece is called ‘Conversation’ (subtitled “between the mandolin and viola”) by the late Eileen Pakenham (1914-2009). She was a leading light in the London Mandolin Ensemble (where John and I met) between 1978 and 1983.

We finish with Duetto IV by Antoine Riggieri, for 2 Mandolins. Riggieri is known to have been working and teaching in Paris in the 1780’s, and clearly possessed fine composing and performing skills, although we have little other information about him. The term Style Galante neatly describes this little duet.”

Finally, Andrew Lewandowski and David Smith will play the piano version of Weber’s Clarinet Concertino in E flat Opus 26. Carl Maria von Weber was a multi-talented pianist, composer and conductor. His works for clarinet, horn and bassoon remain in the repertoire, and his orchestrations were much admired by contemporaries such as Mendelssohn and Berlioz. He wrote his Concertino for Clarinet in E♭ Major, Op. 26 J.109 for clarinettist Heinrich Bärmann in three days between March 29 and April 3 of 1811; Bärmann learned the work over the next three days; and the command performance, for which King Maximilian I of Bavaria purchased 50 tickets, took place on the evening of April 5. It is a one-movement work in variation form.

The October concert will be on Monday 9th and is organised by Li Lin Teo. Please let her know if you plan to offer anything.


Our members’ concert on 13th March 2017

Dear ECMC Member or friend,

Committee member Lewis Lev has unfortunately had to resign from the Committee for health reasons, and we hope he may be able to rejoin it in the future. Meanwhile, we are looking for somebody else who would be able to give a little time. If you are interested, please speak to one of us at a concert, or email. Committee members aim to come to as many concerts as possible and organise one from time to time, but we virtually never have formal meetings. Committee members’ names are in bold on your membership list.

The next concert is on March 13th , and we have three very interesting items. Do bring your own programme, which is available for download here.

The first is the Adagio and Rondo concertante, or Piano Quartet in F major, D487, by Schubert, played by Saori Howse (violin), Polly Kaufmann (viola), Helen Thomas (cello) and Siaw-Lynn Ng (piano). This was composed in 1816 and is his first composition for piano and strings, preceding the “Trout” Quintet” by three years. The ensemble of violin, viola, cello, and pianoforte had not been one of composers’ favorites; in fact, it is a somewhat ungainly ensemble, and the composer has to struggle to achieve textural and registral balance. Schubert’s approach is straightforward enough: he abandons the egalitarianism of instrumentation that by his time was an accepted aspect of chamber music and instead puts the spotlight more brightly on one of the players – the pianist – than on any of the other three. The piano is in fact so predominant, especially after we have passed through the molto legato Adagio and entered the Rondo portion, that the tendency to make the work sound like a piano concerto with a severely reduced orchestra is sometimes tough for players to avoid. While the writing of the piece was prompted by one of Schubert’s cellist friends whose sister Schubert at that time hoped to marry, it is nevertheless quite a pianistic work. It is a remarkably vital piece of music, and listeners are particularly charmed by the Rondo’s joyful energy. Curiously enough, this Rondo is actually not in rondo form at all, but is rather an abridged sonata-allegro in which there is no development section per se. The first known public performance of the quartet was on 1 November 1861, and it was not published until 1865.

Our next item is a charming work by the Swiss born French Clarinetist Jean-Xavier Lefèvre. Lefevre was a very active musican operating through the latter half of the 18th century and early 19th century. As a professor he had many famous pupils at the Paris Conservatoire, including the the renowned composer clarinettist Bernard Crusell who produced considerable repertoire for this newly and fast developing instrument. Lefevere was responsible for writing one of the first tutors for clarinet; Méthode de Clarinette (1802) which includes a set of 12 wonderful and versatile sonatas for clarinet. Virtually unknown, these sonatas contain an array of inventive writing, through a clarity of texture for the instrument which are to be enjoyed by amateur and professional clarinetists alike. Indeed as part of the tutor the sonatas were originally intended for two clarinets, though are equally valid with cello continuo, or as will be performed this evening, by Andrew Lewandowski (clarinet) and Li Lin Teo (piano) a lightly scored piano accompaniment.

Our third item, played by Julia Harris and David Smith, is a very well-known and much-loved piece. The Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano by César Franck (in full, César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck) is considered one of the finest sonatas for violin and piano ever written. It was written in 1886, when César Franck was 63, as a wedding present for the 31-year-old violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. Twenty-eight years earlier, in 1858, Franck had promised a violin sonata for Cosima von Bülow. This never appeared; it has been speculated that whatever work Franck had done on that piece was put aside, and eventually ended up in the sonata he wrote for Ysaÿe in 1886. Franck presented the work to Ysaÿe on the morning of his wedding on 26 September 1886. After a hurried rehearsal, Ysaÿe and the pianist Léontine Bordes-Pène, a wedding guest, played the Sonata to the other wedding guests. It was given its first public concert performance on 16 December of that year, at the Musée Moderne de Peinture in Brussels, with Ysaÿe and Bordes-Pène again the performers. The Sonata was the final item in a long program that started at 3 pm. When the time arrived for the Sonata, dusk had fallen and the gallery was bathed in gloom, but the gallery authorities permitted no artificial light whatsoever. Initially, it seemed the Sonata would have to be abandoned, but Ysaÿe and Bordes-Pène decided regardless to continue. In the event, they had to play the last three movements from memory in virtual darkness. Vincent d’Indy, who was present, recorded these details of the event. Ysaÿe kept the Violin Sonata in his repertoire for the next 40 years of his life. His championing of the Sonata contributed to the public recognition of Franck as a major composer. This recognition was quite belated; Franck died within four years of the Sonata’s public première, and did not have his first unqualified public success until the last year of his life. Julia and David will be performing, hopefully not in the dark, the second movement (Allegro) and fourth (Allegretto poco mosso) the famous canon, which has been described as “a magnificent example of canonic writing, simple, majestic and irresistible in its ample, beautifully wrought proportions.”

Please do come and hear these lovely pieces.


Our members’ concert on 13th February 2017

Dear ECMC Member/Friend,

The February concert will be on Monday 13th. Do bring your own programme, which is available for download here.

Before I give you the programme details, do note in your diaries that the following concert will be on March 13th, and is organised by Saori Howse; please let her know if you have anything to offer.

We start our February 13th concert with two 18th-century trio sonatas for two recorders and continuo by Daniel Purcell and Robert Valentine, played by Linda Shanks & Hilary Potts (recorders), Kathryn Weeks (cello) and Chris Moore (piano continuo).

Daniel Purcell (c. 1664 – 1717) was the younger brother or possibly cousin of Henry Purcell, also a choirboy in the Chapel Royal, also worked as a composer for the theatre and completed Henry’s score for The Indian Queen when Henry was dying, as well as writing many sets of sonatas for recorder and violin. No.3 consists of Adagio – Allegro, Largo and Allegro.

Robert Valentine (c.1671 – 1747), also known as Roberto Valentini and Roberto Valentino, was a composer, recorder player, oboist and violinist, born in Leicester but apparently not baptised until 3 years later. He was the last of six brothers who all became professional musicians. Perhaps to escape the local competition, he moved to Rome and became a naturalised Italian. H e is noted for his large number of compositions for the recorder. Sonata No.1, in F, was composed around 1720, and the movements are Preludio, Allemande, Allegro, Adagio, Gavotte (from Sonata 2) and Giga. We have inserted the Gavotte from No.2 before the Giga because we rather liked it.

Next, a complete contrast in the Piano Concerto No. 2, Op.18 2nd Movement (Adagio sostenuto), by Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), arranged for two pianos and performed by Li Lin (soloist) and Deni Lin (orchestra). We heard the first movement at our October concert. This is one of Rachmaninoff’s most enduringly popular works, and established his fame as a concerto composer. Famously, this work confirmed his recovery from clinical depression and writer’s block, cured only by a course of hypnotherapy. As a result, the concerto was dedicated to Nikolai Dahl, the physician who had done much to restore Rachmaninoff’s self-confidence. The complete work was premiered, with the composer as soloist, in November 1901. The arrangement for two pianos would probably have been made very soon after, as in those days the piano duet versions of symphonies and concerti were a major source of income for the publisher.

Finally, the regular team of Theresa Cory and David Smith will play the Flute Sonata Op.120
by Edwin York Bowen (1884-1961) As well as being a pianist and composer, York Bowen was a talented conductor, organist, violist and horn player, as well as a distinguished professor of music at the Royal Academy. Despite achieving considerable success during his lifetime, many of the composer’s works remained unpublished and unperformed until after his death in 1961. Bowen’s compositional style is widely considered as ‘Romantic’ and his works are often characterized by their rich harmonic language. He was notably one of the first modern British composers to add to the viola repertoire, and one of the most celebrated English composers of piano music of his time. He premiered all his own piano concerti, two of them at the Proms. The flute sonata was written inn 1946, probably for Gareth Morris (brother of the writer Jan Morris), a fellow Academy Professor, and the movements are: Allegro non troppo,
Andante piacevole and Allegro con fuoco.

You may also be interested in the professional chamber music concerts put on by the Friends of St Mary’s on many Wednesday evenings. For instance, on February 1st you could hear violin sonatas by Schumann, Joachim and Brahms, and items for wind ensemble by Auric, Bizet and Poulenc. The Friends are very generous to us, with a low rental for our events, and even advertise the Club in their mailouts, so it would be good if as many of our members as possible would also join the Friends.

Lastly, the Club does have a business card, some of which I recently came across when clearing out a drawer. It would be helpful if members would take one or two in their handbags/ wallets to hand over should they meet someone potentially interested in joining.