Tag Archives: Heinrich Biber

November 2015 – upcoming London gigs – assorted classical and related – Lubomyr Melnyk’s continuous piano (plus James Blackshaw’s flexible guitar and a Franco-Palestinian-Bedouin quintet from Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia); and a Mexican evening with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaime Martín and Arturo Chacón-Cruz

30 Oct

Yesterday it was upcoming classical concerts; today it’s close relations of various kinds…

I’ve previously covered, in passing, the Labyrinths series of international live music events (presented by Thirtythree Thirtythree – the team behind St John Sessions – and Nawa Recordings) which are taking place throughout 2015 across Beirut, Cairo and London. Here’s another one, featuring music spanning Palestine, France, the Ukraine and Sussex and mingling Western and Eastern classical, jazz, folk baroque and Arabic forms.

Lubomyr Melnyk + Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia + James Blackshaw (St John Sessions @ St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 0PD, UK, Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 6.30pm) – £16.50

Lubomyr Melnyk & friends

Lubomyr Melnyk is a Ukrainian composer and pianist who has pioneered ‘Continuous Piano Music’. Classically trained and greatly affected by the minimalist movement in the early 1970s, he has developed his own unique language for the piano, named after the principle of maintaining a continuous, unbroken stream of sound. The rapid sequences, coupled with Melnyk’s awe-inspiring ability of playing up to 19 notes per second with each hand simultaneously create a tapestry of sound that transcends sonic waves into a very tangible, physical experience. Having spent much of his artistic life in obscurity, Lubomyr Melnyk’s work was recently rediscovered by a whole new generation of music lovers, offering the piano virtuoso a well-deserved renaissance with world-wide tours.

Kamilya Jubran (Palestinian singer and oud player) and Sarah Murcia (French jazz double bassist and composer) will present the UK debut of their ‘Nhaoul’ project as a quintet also featuring Régis Huby (violin), Guillaume Roy (viola) and Atsushi Sakai (cello). Kamilya and Sarah’s first meeting dates back to 1998, when Sarah joined Sabreen – an innovative Palestinian group whose lead singer was Kamilya – for an album and concert tour of Europe and the Middle East. ‘Nhaoul’ (Arabic for “loom”) was first created together as a duo as a result of a profound exchange around their respective musical interests.

The basis of their duet rests on an amazing musical and aesthetic convergence which has solidified through delving deeper into several compositions by Kamilya based on prose poems, so as to give to the oud a total rhythmic and melodic freedom. Sarah has approached them in a vertical way in adding her harmonies. Her string arrangements, cast against Arabic music, deal with the economy, colours, matter. Kamilya Jurban, on the other hand, comes from a highly melodic and modal culture and thinks her music horizontally.

Over several years of reflection and mutual learning, the two musicians worked to create a common language: Sarah made a point of learning to play the quarter-tones of oriental scales and memorize long labyrinthine sentences – of the oral tradition – which are the rule in Arab music. Kamilya Jubran, in turn, began to internalise the methods of limited transposition and complex rhythmic structures (asymmetry, polyrhythm), following Sarah’s suggestions. The texts selected for setting are chosen from the work of contemporary poets; or are, for ‘Suite Nomade’, excerpts from Bedouin poems from the deserts of the Sinai and Negev published by Clinton Bailey in his collection ‘Bedouin Poetry’ (Saqi Books, reissued in 2002). Kamilya Jubran sings them in dialect remembering the Bedouin women she came across in her childhood.

Hastings-based guitarist and pianist James Blackshaw primarily plays an acoustic 12-string guitar in fingerstyle fashion (for which he has grown long pick-like fingernails on his right hand). A musician blending ideas from assorted folk cultures around the world and from the classical concert hall, James has been compared to cross-genre guitar explorers such as Bert Jansch, Robbie Basho, John Fahey, Jack Rose and Leo Kottke. He has released albums on the labels Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, Static, Digitalis Industries, Important Records, Tompkins Square, and Young God Records.

James has previously collaborated with Lubomyr Melnyk on ‘The Watchers’, a 2013 collection of improvised duets recorded at the Vortex Jazz Club. It’s possible that they might repeat the engagement at this gig.


More information is here, and tickets are here.

Jaime Martin, 2015

Jaime Martin, 2015

Several things have drawn me toward central and south American music recently. One of these things is Alex Ross’ fascinating history (in ‘Listen To This’) of the journey of the chaconne from Africa to south America, and from there to Spain, moving on through Europe and feeding into Monteverdi, the emerging baroque music atmosphere at Versailles, and Bach (there’s a version the whole story at Alex’ blog, here).

The other is the Harp Consort’s wonderful 2002 album, ‘Missa Mexicana‘, which carefully constructs an impression of a Spanish colonial church service in Baroque-era Puebla City, threading secular dances through a Juan Gutiiérez de Padilla mass, with African, traditional Spanish and fresh Mexican musical ideas intertwined.

With both of these in my mind, it was intriguing to see this advertised…

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jaime Martín/Arturo Chacón-Cruz perform Mexican Magic (Royal Festival Hall @ Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX, UK, Friday 6th November 2015, 7.30pm) – £9.00 to £65.00

Experience a dazzling programme of Mexican classical music as we celebrate The Year of Mexico in the UK. Mexican classical music is about more than folklore and colour. Eclectic and sophisticated, it spans a broad spectrum of musical possibilities and embodies the spirit of Mexico in all its richness and diversity. Join London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Jaime Martín for the slithering sounds of Revueltas’ ‘Sensemayá’, Ibarra’s ear-teasing ‘Sinfonía No. 2 ‘and Márquez’ toe-tapping ‘Danzón No.2’ alongside a selection of popular songs from Mexico (sung by tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz).


Ricardo Castro – Intermezzo from ‘Atzimba’
Charles Gounod – L’amour… Ah! lève-toi, soleil (from ‘Roméo et Juliette’)
Federico Ibarra – Sinfonía No.2 (Las Antesalas des sueño)
Various – Mexican Songs
Leonard Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’
Silvestre Revueltas – Sensemayá
Arturo Márquez – Danzón No.2

More information here, and tickets here.

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More November gig previews shortly…

November 2015 – upcoming London gigs – assorted classical and related – another Fenella Humphreys Bach-plus violin evening (with extra Peter Maxwell Davies/Adrian Sutton premieres) and a multimedia Rachmaninoff symphony from Arensky Chamber Orchestra

29 Oct

Two upcoming classical concerts here, both at the Forge…

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Fenella Humphreys: Bach to the Future Part 3 (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 7.30pm) – £10.00-£12.00

Fenella Humphreys (photo by Gary Barton)

Fenella Humphries (photo by Gary Barton)

Violinist Fenella Humphreys presents the third of her Bach to the Future projects at The Forge, featuring commissions of new works by Britain’s leading composers to accompany Bach’s glorious Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin. The third concert includes new works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Adrian Sutton alongside extraordinary music by Bach, Sibelius, Biber and Ysaye.


Jean Sibelius – En Glad Musikant
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – new work (2015)
J.S. Bach – Sonata no. 3 in C major BWV 1005
Heinrich Biber – Passacaglia in G minor
Adrian Sutton – new work (2015)
Eugene Ysaye – Solo Sonata no. 3 ‘Ballade’ op. 27

Fenella is also making studio recordings of the project for Champs Hill Records over two CDs – ‘Volume One’ was released in August 2015.

More information and tickets here.

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Here’s something familiar in a new setting…

The Arensky Chamber Orchestra presents: Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Wednesday 4th November 2015, 8.00pm) – £12.00

Led by international prize-winning conductor William Kunhardt, The Arensky Chamber Orchestra has established itself as one of London’s most exciting young ensembles since its debut in 2009 – dedicated to revitalising the concert experience with theatrical and brilliant productions of classical music. Described as “deeply moving” by ‘The Independent’ in 2014, the ACO has produced numerous broadcast recordings on national radio and regularly performs in the country’s leading venues, including Cadogan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room.

The orchestra’s performances fuse electric performance with lighting design, “live” programme notes delivered from the stage and unusual venue use. Past collaborators have included leading soloists such as Jennifer Pike and Benjamin Grosvenor, guest directors including the leaders of the Philharmonia, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and institutions and festivals ranging from the Royal College of Art to the Greenwich and Docklands Festival. The ACO also regularly combine their performances with specially created food and drink menus and commissioned work from other artists, including video DJs, artists, actors and dancers.

The ACO return to The Forge with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s opulent Second Symphony, arranged for chamber orchestra. Revered as the greatest pianist of his time, yet scorned as an out-of-date and sentimental composer, Rachmaninoff’s music is an oasis of drama, colour and feeling in the increasingly rational and cold 20th Century musical world. Whilst all Rachmaninoff’s music sings with a heart-wrenching honesty, his Second Symphony is perhaps the most personal piece he ever wrote. Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony – a huge failure – had led to three years in the musical wilderness, to crushing self-doubt and writers block. He published his Second only after intense courses of hypnotherapy and years of reworking the manuscript.

As a result, it is a true autobiography of his soul: it speaks of fierce patriotism, exile and of a yearning to return to a home that was now lost to him. It tells of his worldwide triumphs, yet also of his failings and self doubt. The “dies irae” chant lurks in the shadows, a morbid reminder of Rachmaninoff’s preoccupation with death. But above all it sings with extraordinary beauty, sumptuous colour and unending, impossible-to-forget melodies. Join the ACO as they unravel the luxurious sound-world of this symphony with excerpts, short performances and stories from Rachmaninoff’s life. Then sit back and enjoy perhaps the ultimate Romantic symphony, and the world premiere performance of its new arrangement.

“Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love! Music is the Sister of Poetry and her Mother is sorrow.” – Sergei Rachmaninoff

More information and tickets are here.


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