Autumn 2008

Mark Bebbington (piano)

Friday 10 th October 2008, 7.45 pm
Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

Mark Bebbington César Franck

 

The critical plaudits which have greeted Mark Bebbington’s performances and recordings have singled him out as a young British pianist of the rarest refinement and maturity. Increasingly recognised as a champion of British music, Mark has recorded extensively for SOMM “New Horizons” label to unanimous critical acclaim. He was awarded the front cover photo feature for the June edition of International Record Review magazine. His disc of the piano version of Elgar’s First Symphony attracted a 5***** rating in November 2007 BBC Music Magazine and an earlier disc – piano music by Constant Lambert and Malcolm Arnold – was Editor’s Choice in February 2007 Gramophone magazine.

 

While at the Royal College of Music, Mark won numerous international awards and prizes, and later studied in Italy with the legendary Aldo Ciccolini, who said of his Paris debut recital it was “one of the most brilliant debuts I have witnessed in the capital”. He has toured extensively throughout Central and Northern Europe as well as the Far East and North Africa. He has appeared with the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, London Mozart Players and the Orchestra of the Swan, at all the major London concert halls and at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, and he has featured both as concerto soloist and recitalist on television and radio in Britain and Europe.

 

No less a passionate advocate of the Viennese classics, Mark is also establishing a reputation as a refined and elegant exponent of French music, and his programme reflects all aspects of his repertoire, from Beethoven’s powerful AppassionataSonata and some DebussyPreludes to a group of virtuoso operatic paraphrases by Liszt (from Verdi’s Rigoletto and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde) and Joubert, the composer of the popular carol Torches (his Lyric Fantasy on themes from his own opera Jane Eyre). A highlight of the programme will also be César Franck’s masterpiece, Prelude, Chorale and Fugue.

 

The Mark Bebbington piano recital is on Friday 10 th October, at the Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue, Sittingbourne, ME10 4NL, at 7.45 pm.


Text Box: Operatic Paraphrases became a piano phenomenon during the 19th century, when many virtuoso pianists followed the example of Liszt and wrote piano fantasies based on the themes from popular operas of the day. Liszt’s, however, stand out from the rest by virtue of his understanding of the psychology of the operas, as well as the style of their composers, and his brilliant expansion of the possibilities of the keyboard. Taking inspiration from other music was nothing new – many Renaissance masses, and even earlier works, took their themes not from liturgical sources but from currently popular songs, and folksong too was a constant source of inspiration. In his Paraphrases of the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto he explored both piano virtuosity and the dramatic context of the operas and their characters. And, of course, works like this gave people the opportunity of hearing music otherwise restricted to the opera houses. In more recent times, his tradition has been followed by many composers, including Busoni and most recently John Joubert, in the romantic Lyric Fantasy on themes from his own opera Jane Eyre.

Franz Liszt Richard Wagner Giuseppe Verdi

 

The Brass Quintet of the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Friday 14 th November 2008, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

 

The 2007/08 season saw the 75 th Anniversary of the London Philharmonic, one of the world’s leading orchestras, known particularly for both their sensitive musicianship and their brilliant technical aplomb. For several years, they have presented an immensely successful series of chamber concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, and among these groups their Brass Quintet, comprised of their leading brass players, gave a particularly memorable programme in February 2008 – our Artistic Director, who has for many years had a close professional relationship with the orchestra, was lucky enough to be present, and immediately expressed a wish to bring this brilliant quintet to Sittingbourne. They are repeating much the same programme, including new arrangements of music by Jeremiah Clarke (of Trumpet Voluntary fame) and that excellent composer (not joking) King Henry VIII. The elements of tunefulness and catchy rhythms found in these early works are echoed in two outstandingly popular more recent pieces, the Brass Quintet No 1 by Malcolm Arnold, now a staple in the brass repertoire, and, equally well established, the enchanting Music-Hall Suite by Joseph Horovitz, a brilliant and highly entertaining pastiche of Victorian songs. Horovitz is best-known perhaps for his themes for TV series such as Rumpole of the Bailey, but his output is enormous, ranging from ballets and chamber opera to string quartets and concertos – his Music-Hall Suite brings an entertaining programme to a riotous conclusion.

 

Horovitz was born in Vienna in 1936 and emigrated to England in 1938. He studied music at New College, Oxford, while acting as an official lecturer in music appreciation to the Forces and giving piano recitals in army camps. After taking his degrees, he studied composition with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music and then with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He became Music Director of the Bristol Old Vic, where he composed, arranged and conducted the incidental music for two seasons. He later held positions as conductor to the Ballet Russes, associate director of the Intimate Opera Company, on the music staff at Glyndebourne, and as guest composer at the Tanglewood Festival, USA. He won numerous major awards including the Commonwealth Medal for Composition, a Leverhulme Research Award and, later, the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art First Class, and the Cobbett Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians for services to chamber music.

 

Brass Consort music has been a familiar part of the musical scene for centuries. In part this stems from their use as ceremonial music for fanfares and the like, so it is not surprising that composers over many years have found it rewarding to write music specially for brass groups. Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’ e forte is a familiar standard piece from the 16th Century, and there are many similar pieces, both written for specific occasions and for private entertainment, from many countries – there is an especially strong tradition in Germany of writing Turmmusik (Tower Music, for performance out of doors from church and town-hall towers). With the advent in the second half of the 20 th century of specialist concert groups such as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, brass chamber music has had a new, immensely popular lease of life.

 

Click for full sized photo

Malcolm Arnold Rumpole of the Bailey King Henry VIII

 

 

 

MONEY!

We run as tight a financial ship as we can, and our artists, too, are very understanding. We try to keep ticket prices down, and are managing to do so. Membership is still an amazing bargain – please encourage your musical friends to support us, even if you/they can’t get to every concert. And if any of you have ideas as to possible local sponsorship, do let us know. General opinion seems to be that we’re doing a great job for music in our community, by bringing top artists here, and we can only do this because they are sometimes amazingly generous in reducing their fees (in a few cases to 1/8 th of their normal fee!). And we attract audiences from far afield as well as Sittingbourne, so we’re doing our bit to keep the town going.

 

FAREWELL TO TWO GREAT MUSICIANS Sadly, we have had to say farewell recently to two great friends, both superb musicians. Earlier this year, the Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott died at the age of 79 – I am glad that in one of our earlier seasons we were able to programme a delightful recorder piece Lizard by him. Hoddinott was a friend and valued colleague from the early 1960s, and a most distinguished and powerful composer. Fortunately there are many CDs currently available of his work. And as we were about to go to press, we had news of the death of Vernon Handley (known as Tod to all his friends). Tod Handley was also a friend for many years, and his classic CD sets of the Vaughan Williams and Bax symphonies will remain monuments in recording history. But he was a much more wide-ranging conductor, whose Beethoven and Brahms symphony performances were comparable with any other great artist, and he was also a remarkable accompanist, not least in Mozart concertos (as I have good reason to know). Both these men will be sadly missed – they were irreplaceable. JMcC

 

PRAISE TO OUR MUSICAL OLYMPIANS The Proms this year rightly gave plenty of time to the music of Vaughan Williams, marking the 50 th anniversary of his death, and numerous orchestras have celebrated him by major events. Still to come in London are his 8 th Symphony (London Philharmonic, 24 th September) and several concerts by the Philharmonia Orchestra, one including the 5 th, 6 th and 9 th symphonies (November 2 nd at 3 pm) and one including the great cantata Dona nobis pacem and the 3 rd and 4 th symphonies. It is rare for even the greatest British composers to receive this kind of tribute, and the concerts would be well worth a special effort to attend. The SMS’s policy of trying to include a British work in our concerts whenever possible seems to have been well received by audiences, and we’ve been successful on all except one occasion. But it would still be good if our musical Olympians were given as much credit (and financial support) as our sports Olympians – to whom all praise and credit. I’ve never forgotten, at Walton’s Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey, an English person outside asking me who he was – and this for someone who was also famous for outstandingly successful film scores, march tunes and carols! MMcC

 

NEWSLETTERS I always hope you find these Newsletters informative and interesting. However, they do take an awful lot of time preparing (not to mention printing!), and it is not going to be possible for me to continue doing this for much longer, in view of the large number of musical commitments I’m going to have over the next 18 months or so. It probably takes about a week’s work (spread over a long period of time, of course) to research biographies/photos/other information and write the Newsletter, and then (inevitably) cut the text so it fits the pages. (I always write too much and then have to cut it.) So after a Members’ Newsletter at the beginning of 2009 and a Public one for the summer, I will have to draw a line under this activity, and the Newsletter will simply have to be a single A4 side of basic information for the whole season. Unless someone reads this and would like to tackle this job (and probably do it more quickly)… JMcC

 

Meanwhile, a brief reminder of the second half of the season, all in 2009:

1. Our first Musical/Social event, an At Home featuring local young artists in a mixture of songs and instrumental music – we are not able yet to confirm the details because their educational timetables have not yet been provided. We do know, however, that Pauline Panton has very kindly agreed to come and give us some of her famous readings. This concert is less expensive for non-members than usual (£5), and includes a glass of wine or a soft drink. We hope you’ll all rally round and support this new venture, which is in response to various requests from members. Friday 13 th February at Sittingbourne Community College.

2. Our first Russian artists, the Atrium Quartet of St Petersburg give us a wonderful programme of Mozart, Walton and Tchaikovsky – by coincidence, we’ve recently had a message from the Chairman of another Music Club to the North of London describing them as “marvellous”. Friday 13 th March at SCC.

3. A return visit, solo this time, by the very popular guitarist Craig Ogden, whose diverse career includes great classical guitar repertoire, lighter fare, cross-over and jazz performances, and many internationally acclaimed recordings. Friday 5 th June at SCC.

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Saturday 27 th September at 7.30 pm in the Alexander Centre, Faversham: Oare String Orchestra conducted by Peter Aviss, with Chris Spencer (clarinet): Boyce, Finzi (Clarinet Concerto), Mozart Divertimento in F, Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings.

 

Whitstable Music Society dates: Whitstable Methodist Church , Argyle Road, Whitstable, 7.30 pm:

Saturday 27 th September 2008: Brodsky String Quartet: Purcell, Turina, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven

Saturday 25 th October: The Thirteen Wind Ensemble: Mozart Serenades K. 388 and 361), Beethoven

Saturday 29 th November: Marina Nadiradze (piano): Scarlatti, Beethoven (Moonlight), Debussy, Chopin

 

Faversham Music Club dates : in Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Abbey Place, Faversham, 8 pm:

Thursday 16 th October 2008: Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) and Adam Walker (flute)

Thursday 13 th November 2008: Xuefei Yang (guitar)

 

Maidstone Symphony Orchestra, conductor Brian Wright: Maidstone Leisure Centre, Mote Park,

7.30 pm:

Saturday 18 th October: Dukas, Schumann Piano Concerto (Llyr Williams, soloist), Vaughan Williams (Job)

Saturday 6 th December: Sibelius, R. Strauss Horn Concerto No 2 (Michael Thompson), Tchaikovsky 5th

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