Tag Archives: Johann Sebastian Bach

January 2018 – upcoming London classical gigs – the Baroque At The Edge festival (5th to 7th January); three string quartet premieres and a Shostakovich from London City Quartet (27th January)

23 Dec

News on an intriguing long-weekender of a festival coming up next month…

Baroque At The Edge, 5th-7th January 2018
“Imagine if Bach was a jazzman, Vivaldi a folk-fiddler, or Handel a minimalist… A brand-new event from the creators of the highly successful London Festival of Baroque Music (artistic director Lindsay Kemp and manager Lucy Bending, working in partnership with LSO St Luke’s) the Baroque At The Edge festival invites leading musicians ranging from classical to world, jazz and folk to take the music of the Baroque and see where it leads them. No rules, no programme notes, no lectures: all you need to know is how to listen.”

There are three virtuoso duet concerts. The first features German recorder player Tabea Debus and theorbo lutenist Alex McCartney performing Telemann’s Solo Fantasias, alongside specially commissioned new pieces from Colin Matthews (‘Meditation’), Laura Bowler (‘TV Man’) and Fumiko Miyachi (‘Air’). The second is a part-improvisational teamup of lutenist Thomas Dunford and Persian percussionist Keyvan Chemirani, crossing and blending the sounds of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century European Baroque masters with similarly dazzling and spiritual Persian compositions. The third and last brings together Bjarte Eike (of raw folk/Baroque crossover ensemble Barokksolistene) and jazz pianist Jon Balke (of Magnetic North Orchestra).

Opening the festival, delightfully eclectic pianist, programmer and prime musical communicator Joanna MacGregor will deliver a concert “celebrating birds, ground basses and chaconnes” and consisting of nineteen pieces spanning four-and-a-half centuries – not only the Baroque (handsomely represented by Alessandro Poglietti, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Henry Purcell, Louis-Claude Daquin, François Couperin and Johann Pachelbel), but the Renaissance (William Byrd), the Romantic movement (Franz Liszt, Leoš Janáček), Modernism (Olivier Messiaen), minimalism (Philip Glass) and the fanning-out of contemporary classical (Harrison Birtwistle, Hossein Alizâdeh, Sofia Gubaidulina).

Warm, witty universal percussionists O Duo (Oliver Cox and Owen Gunnell) will be leading a family-friendly open-to-all percussion workshop with a baroque twist, while Paolo Pandolfo gives a solo viola da gamba recital embracing fantasies and popular dance-tunes of the sixteenth century, brushes with Bach, Telemann and the French baroque, and Paolo’s own captivating 21st-century improvisations.

Perhaps most absorbingly, vocal ensemble The Marian Consort (accompanied by lutenist Jamie Akers and solo actor/onetime ‘Casualty’ star Gerald Kyd) will deliver the London premiere of Clare Norburn’s concert-drama ‘Breaking the Rules‘, an acclaimed concert-drama exploring the last agonies of the seventeenth-century composer Carlo Gesualdo (a boundary-crossing influence on artists including Igor Stravinsky, Aldous Huxley, Werner Herzog and Frank Zappa). Having jealously murdered his first wife Donna Maria D’Avalos (along with her lover), Gesualdo poured his pain into deeply and unconventionally expressive music of torture and regret. ‘Breaking The Rules’ promises “(a) sound-track to Gesualdo’s mind on the final night of his life, as he contemplates his own mortality and the tumultuous events which have led him to this moment.”

Dates for ‘Baroque at the Edge’ (all other information is here):

  • Joanna MacGregor – LSO St Lukes, 161 Old Street, St Lukes, London, EC1V 9NG, England, Friday 5th January 2017, 7.30pm
  • Tabea Debus & Alex McCartney – St James Clerkenwell, Clerkenwell Close, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 0EA, England, Saturday 6th January 2017, 1.00pm
  • Paolo Pandolfo – LSO St Lukes, 161 Old Street, St Lukes, London, EC1V 9NG, England, Saturday 6th January 2017, 4.00pm
  • The Marian Consort: ‘Breaking the Rules’ – LSO St Lukes, 161 Old Street, St Lukes, London, EC1V 9NG, England, Saturday 6th January 2017, 7.00pmtickets
  • Thomas Dunford & Keyvan Chemirani – LSO St Lukes, 161 Old Street, St Lukes, London, EC1V 9NG, England, Saturday 6th January 2017, 9.30pm
  • O Duo Family Workshop – LSO St Lukes, 161 Old Street, St Lukes, London, EC1V 9NG, England, Sunday 7th January 2017, 10.30am
  • Bjarte Eike & Jon Balke – LSO St Lukes, 161 Old Street, St Lukes, London, EC1V 9NG, England, Sunday 7 January 2018, 12.30pm

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London City Quartet, 27th January 2018Much later in the month, over in a lofty Arts & Crafts Movement Anglo-Catholic church in west Kensington, the London City Quartet will be playing four string quartets: one of them an established twentieth century classic, the other three brand new works.

West Kensington Music Team presents:
London City Quartet: “Bomafescho.”
St. Cuthbert’s Church (Earls Court), 50 Philbeach Gardens, Earls Court, London, SW5 9EB, England
Saturday 27th January 2018, 5.00pm
– tickets & enquiries via email here or via telephone (020 7101 4479)


Dmitri Shostakovich – String Quartet No. 1
David Bozzo – String Quartet No. 2
Brian Martínez – String Quartet No. 1
Peter Fender – String Quartet No. 1 (Thredony Quartet) Op. 30

There hasn’t been much more that I could dig up about this, either from the slightly bewildering WKMT homepage or elsewhere; but as appetite-sharpeners here’s a recording of David Bozzo’s previous string quartet (as played by the Billroth Quartet), a Martinez piano prelude, and a rendition of the Shostakovich by the Fitzwilliam Quartet. (Peter Fender, modestly, seems to restrict his own video output to examples of his conducting and training rather than his compositions.)


November 2017 – upcoming London classical gigs – baroque-xplorations with Peter Sheppard Skærved’s ‘The Voice of the Violin’ (21st) and Anette Bjørnenak/Krishna Nagaraja/Masumi Yamamoto’s Norwegian ‘Folk-Barokk’ (25th)

13 Nov

Quick news on a couple of perspective-expanding baroque music events later in the month…

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Wilton’s Music Hall presents:
Peter Sheppard Skærved: ‘The Voice of the Violin’
Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, London, E1 8JB, England
Tuesday 21st November 2017, 7.00pm
– information here and here

Peter Sheppard Skærved, leader of the Kreutzer Quartet, explores the beginnings of the virtuoso violin, playing a series of extraordinary instruments from the 17th century in this intimate solo performance featuring Benjamin Hebbert and including two special world premieres. There’ll be a talk before the concert (at 7.00pm).

'The Voice of the Violin', 21st November 2017“The programme consists of music for solo violin by Giuseppe Torelli, Biagio Marini, Pietro Locatelli, Nicola Matteis, Carlo Ambrogio Lonati, Giovanni Bassano, Carl Heinrich Biber, Thomas Baltzar, Johann Paul von Westhoff, Le Sieur de Machy, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Giuseppe Tartini, Georg Philipp Telemann and Johan Sebastian Bach; and will include music from the Klagenfurt Manuscript. There will also be world premieres of new works by composer Edward Cowie (‘Gad’) and David Matthews (‘Capriccio-Fantasia’).”

Here’s Peter playing some Telemann and a newer piece by David Gorton:

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'Folk-Barokk!', 25th November 2017Schott Music presents:
‘Folk-Barokk!’ From Nor­way: Anette Bjørnenak/Krishna Nagaraja/Masumi Yamamoto
Schott Recital Room @ Schott Music, 48 Great Marlborough Street, Soho, London, W1F 7BB, England
Saturday 25th November 2017, 7.00pm

Anette Bjørnenak (recorders), Krishna Nagaraja (viola/Norwegian hardingfele fiddle) and Masumi Yamamoto (harpsichord) explore folk music of Norway from an eighteenth-century music book, and also look at the way folk music influenced composers of the Baroque era.

“Works by Telemann, Morel, Jacob Mestmacher, C.P.E. Bach and Francesco Barsanti.”

November 2017 – upcoming London classical gigs – SOLO presents Eliza McCarthy (7th November); Chamber Sundays at The Rosemary Branch (12th November); Scordatura Women’s Music Collective performs duets by women composers (10th November)

23 Oct

Three of the imminent, interesting classical gigs in London this coming month… some contemporary solo piano in Shoreditch, some disparate contemporary chamber music taking over an Islington theatre, and a celebration of women composers by a female music collective in Stoke Newington…

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Eliza McCarthy, 2017

SOLO presents:
SOLO 04: Eliza McCarthy
Shoreditch Treehouse, 34 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3PB, England
Tuesday 7th November 2017, 7.00pm

“SOLO is back and this time we’re heading to a cosy loft right in the heart of Shoreditch for an intimate recital from acclaimed pianist Eliza McCarthy! Eliza specialises in contemporary music and has worked with a whole bunch of composers from John Adams to Tansy Davies and Andrew Hamilton to Mica Levi. Expect a veritable smorgasbord – contemporary pieces by John Adams, John Luther Adams, Mica Levi and more, a side order of J.S. Bach, and the world première of ‘Curved Form (No. 4)’ by Alex Groves.”

Here’s Eliza playing some Levi at Kammer Klang a while back…

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At the moment, there’s no more info on which Bach, Levi and Adams(es) pieces Eliza will be playing: but you might like to know that the next in Alex’s sequence of ‘Curved Form’ pieces – ‘Curved Form (No. 5)’ – will be played the following week at the Rosemary Branch’s informal Chamber Sundays evening, curated by mezzo-soprano Rosie Middleton, at which you’ll also hear compositions by Adam Gorb and Jonathan Dove.

Chamber Sundays, 12th November 2017

Chamber Sundays: Rosie Middleton & Friends
The Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Road, De Beauvoir Town, London, N1 3DT, England
Sunday 12th November 2017, 7.00pm

Sorry – I’ve not got much more information on that either, other than what’s above; but here are some sample pieces from Adam, Alex and Jonathan…

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Scordatura Women’s Music Collective present:
‘Duos and Duels’
The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, London, N16 9ES, England
Friday 10th November 2017, 7.30pm

Scordatura Women's Music Collective, 10th November 2017Scordatura Women’s Music Collective is a group of musicians who want to extend the established repertoire by performing and championing music written by women. With interests ranging from Baroque Historical Performance to contemporary composition to world music, members of the collective will be performing from a huge, varied and beautiful body of music.

“On this occasion, the group are performing an evening of duos for cello, clarinet and viola composed by some of the most exciting women of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”


Rebecca Clarke – Prelude, Allegro and Pastorale
Sally Beamish – Duel
Kaija Saariaho – Oi Kuu
Judith Weir – St Agnes
Chen Yi – Happy Tune
Shulamit Ran – Private Game
Charlotte Bray – Midnight Interludes
Libby Larsen – Yellow Jersey
Caroline Shaw – Limestone + Felt

Encouraging that this is going on: encouraging, too, that I managed to track down performances of seven of those nine pieces in a further attempt to persuade you to go along.


October 2017 – upcoming London classical gigs – Music-in-Motion & Gildas Quartet immersive show, and the Ligeti Quartet’s ‘Remembering the Future’ (both 28th October)

8 Oct

There’s a couple of classical concerts at the end of the month: not necessarily groundbreaking in what they play (although there is one premiere involved) but interesting in how they arrange their programme or in how they perform it.

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Music-in-Motion, 28th October 2017

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents:
Music-in-Motion Ensemble & Gildas Quartet, directed by John Landor
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1R 4RL, London
Saturday 28th October 2017, 3.30 pm & 7.30pm; Tuesday 31 October 2017, 7.30pm

“Following his powerful staging of Janáček’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ with the Gildas Quartet at Conway Hall last May, John Landor returns with the quartet and the newly-formed Music-in-Motion Ensemble of thirteen string players to present an eclectic programme of music from Purcell to Pärt.

“Immersive, visual and theatrical, Music-in-Motion brings a bold new aesthetic approach to the traditional classical concert. Turning the whole auditorium into a “theatre of music”, the musicians become embodied channels of the musical drama, dissolving boundaries between performers and audience. You are welcome to sit, stand, or even lie down pretty much anywhere during the performance, so you can bring your own cushion or mat, or use ours. It’s a social event too! At the evening concerts, you can bring in drinks from the bar, and everyone is invited to the ‘after-party’ where audience and performers can mingle and discuss the performance, or indeed anything else!”

What this means in practise is the exploding of the orchestral positioning and of orchestral uniformity – while retaining the hidden discipline of the orchestral units, the musicians wander out on their own across the performance space and through the audience as individuals rather than remaining en bloc, with each performer free (and encouraged) to act out the emotionality of the music. The set’s a selection of well-known repertoire war horses: the presentation and implications are less familiar.


Johann Sebastian Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G BWV1048
Antonio Vivaldi – Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro in B minor RV169
Arvo Pärt – Fratres
Leoš Janáček – String Quartet No. 1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’
Henry Purcell – Chacony in G minor
Edward Elgar – Introduction and Allegro Op. 47

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The Ligeti Quartet present “Remembering the Future: Tradition and the Contemporary String Quartet”
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Saturday 28th October 2017, 7:30pm

Since their formation in 2010, Ligeti Quartet, 2017The Ligeti Quartet (violinists Mandhira de Saram and Patrick Dawkins, viola player Richard Jones and cellist Val Welbanks) have commissioned multiple new works and collaborated with artists from all types of musical backgrounds including Anna Meredith, Elliot Galvin, Kerry Andrew (Juice Vocal Ensemble, You Are Wolf), Laura Jurd, Meilyr Jones, Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), Seb Rochford (Polar Bear), Shabaka Hutchings (Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming), Shed 7 and Submotion Orchestra. They are currently working on a long-term project with Ernst von Siemens prize-winning composer Christian Mason to create a series of ‘Songbooks’ for string quartet, based on overtone singing traditions from around the world.

For this performance, the Ligeti Quartet are performing traditional (20th century) and contemporary pieces. These include two Bach related works (a Sofia Gubaidulina tribute and a Birtwistle rearrangement of fugues, , a revival of the debut composition by http://www.plusminusensemble.com Plus-Minus Ensemble co-leader/Cut and Splice curator Joanna Baillie (originally written for Apartment House, and performed here in its 2006 string quartet version) and a brand new piece by former Unthanks member/ Streetwise Opera composer-in-residence/Timeline Songs director Stef Conner (whose body of work as a composer has revealed her as a walker and crosser of fine lines between classical, folk, jazz and antiquity).


Johann Sebastian Bach (arr. Harrison Birtwistle) – Three Fugues from the Art of Fugue
Anton Webern – String Quartet, Op. 28
Joanna Baillie – Five Famous Adagios (2006 string quartet version)
Stef Conner – (LQ Commission, title tbc) (premiere)
Igor Stravinsky – Concertino for String Quartet
Sofia Gubaidulina – Reflections on a Theme B-A-C-H
Georg Friedrich Haas – String Quartet No. 2

March 2017 – upcoming gigs – selections from the Sheffield Classical Weekend (17th-19th)

6 Mar

There’s plenty going on at the three-day mid-March Sheffield Classical Weekend, with the city permeated with music including many old and new favourites. Among what’s on offer are two different performances of Arvo Pärt’s ‘Fratres’ (one by a wind band, one by a host of strings), two Dreams of China concerts covering formal Chinese classical compositions) and a host of choral shows (the classic monk’s-debauchery of Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ via Schubert’s ‘Mirjam’s Siegesgesang’ and Brahms’ ‘Ziguenerlieder’, through to a variety of pops choirs.) Though I’d advise checking out the entire, pleasingly diverse programme, here are my own brief and subjective picks from it, if you’re interested.

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Oliver Coates & cellists: ‘Canticles of the Sky’ – Kelham Island Museum, Alma St, Sheffield, S3 8RY, England, Saturday 18th March 2017, 3:30pm & 5.00pminformation

“A UK premiere featuring star cellist Oliver Coates (Radiohead, ‘Under The Skin’ and ‘There Will Be Blood’). Olly and a host of cellists will surround the Kelham Island audience and lift you skyward with this ethereal and dreamy work from Pulitzer and Grammy-winning composer John Luther Adams. Also featuring extracts from J.S Bach’s Cello Suites.”

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Five Choirs: Sounds From Heaven – St Marie’s Cathedral, Norfolk Row, Sheffield S1 2JB, England, Sunday 19th March 2017, 2:30pminformation

“Perched around the sides of the excellent acoustic space within the Cathedral Church of St Marie, five Sheffield chamber choirs – Abbeydale Singers, Sheffield Chamber Choir, Sterndale Singers, Sheffield Chorale and Viva Voce – will “create a swoonsome heart-lifting soundscape of song.” As well as old and new choral standbys by John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Felix Mendelssohn and others, the concert will include the premiere of ‘Kraal’ a commission for five simultaneous choirs written by Jenny Jackson (a member of Sheffield’s own contemporary composer collective, Platform 4).”

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More music fostered by Platform 4 will be popping up a few times over the weekend. Flautist Rachel Shirley performs “a selection of colourful and inventive works for flute, piano, blown bottles and saxophone“; there’s an evening date at Yellow Arch Studios with players from Sheffield Music Academy, performing the collective’s own “imaginative cutting-edge compositions”. There’s a “mind-bending” collaboration with Opera On Location in which “stories are turned upside down and endings become beginnings in (a) selection of operatic palindromes, where the music is the same both backwards and forwards… featuring Paul Hindemith’s short opera ‘Hin Und Zurück’ (‘There And Back’), plus new bitesize and puzzling pieces…” Platform 4 also contribute the cello-and-electric keyboard piece ‘Upright Stance’ to be performed alongside Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto at Oliver Coates’ concert with Sheffield Music Hub Senior Schools.

  • Opera On Location with Platform 4 – Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JD, England, Friday 17th March 2017, 8:30pminformation (contains strong and sexually explicit language – recommended for 18+)
  • Rachel Shirley: ‘Hooting & Drinking’ – Channing Hall @ Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JD, Saturday 18th March 2017, 3.30pminformation
  • Oliver Coates & Sheffield Music Hub Senior Schools: ‘From The Heart: Shostakovich’ – City Hall Ballroom @ Sheffield City Hall, Barkers Pool, Sheffield, S1 2JA, England, Sunday 19th March, 12:00pminformation
  • Platform 4 with Sheffield Music Academy – Yellow Arch Studios, 30-36 Burton Road, Neepsend, Sheffield, S3 8BX, England, Sunday 19th March 2017, 6:30pminformation

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On the Friday and the Saturday, there are some thoughtfully programmed Sound Laboratory events centring on the music, ideas and influence of Pierre Boulez. Saturday sees a triple-banked set featuring pianists Beate Toyka and Matthew Odell, violinists Darragh Morgan and Lucy Phillips, clarinettist Sarah Watts and the University of Sheffield New Music Ensemble.

Each of these mini-concerts sets one of Boulez’s first three Piano Sonatas against another piece. ‘The Conflict And The Passion’ pitches ‘Piano Sonata No. 1’ against Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata in a study of thwarted passions. ‘Deconstruction & Digitalisation’ presents the classical deconstruction of ‘Piano Sonata No. 2’ and the electro-acoustic contrasts of ‘Anthemes II’. ‘Choice And Chance’ (the only one of the concerts to feature two Boulez compositions) offers ‘Piano Sonata No. 3’ and the clarinet-and-orchestra piece ‘Domaines’, contrasting a piece in which major options are available to the performer and one which is considerably more ordered and regimented.

The series opens on Friday with a special Boulez-inspired concert in which “the avant-garde becomes child’s play… primary school children from across the city explore the curious frontiers of contemporary electronic music and present the results of their musical experimentation.”

Sound Laboratory:

  • ‘Computer Music’ – Firth Hall @ University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, England, Friday 17th March 2017, 1:30pminformation
  • ‘The Conflict & The Passion’ – Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JD, England, Saturday 18th March 1:30pminformation
  • ‘Deconstruction & Digitalisation’ – Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JD, England, Saturday 18th March 3:30pminformation
  • ‘Choice and Chance’ – Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JD, England, Saturday 18th March 5:00pminformation

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Among the Chinese-inspired events is one in which Chinese and European chamber music merge as celebrated guzheng zither soloist Xia Jing teams up with The Fidelio Trio (Darragh Morgan on violin, Adi Tal on cello and Mary Dullea on piano). They’ll be presenting a concert of brand-new musical premieres – Gao Ping’s ‘Feng Zheng’ (‘Kite’), Jeroen Speak’s ‘Silk Dialogues 7’, Dylan Lardelli‘s ‘Shells’, and ‘Time Bends In The Rock’ by Sheffield-based composer Dorothy Ker.

Fidelio Trio & Xia Jing: ‘Global Soundtracks: Silk Dialogues’ – Upper Chapel, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JD, England, Friday 17th March 2017, 9:30pminformation

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In addition, there’s a variety of pop-up performances across the three days, featuring abbreviated sets by event headliners plus showings by small instrumental and vocal groups. It’s an open-minded spill moving out from classical forms to embrace folk, alt.chamber and other kinds of music.

One promising set of contributors are Manchester quintet Kabantu, who’ve thankfully dropped their previous name Project Jam Sandwich and who also “throw away the rulebook to bridge countries and cultures, creating an exuberant and joyful soundworld… vocal harmonies from South Africa coalesce with everything from Celtic reels and Brazilian samba to Balkan folk music and beyond.” Featuring violin, guitar, cello, double bass and percussion in addition to voices, they’re playing a pop-up show but also two separate consecutive-but-entirely-different sets at Yellow Arch Studios.

Classical by Night – Kabantu @ Yellow Arch Studios, 30-36 Burton Road, Neepsend, Sheffield, S3 8BX, England, Sunday 19th March 2017, 6.30pm & 9:30pm – information here and here

December 2016 – upcoming classical gigs – piano & violin duets from Emre Engin & Jennifer Hughes in London (1st); Psappha soloists play Stylianos Dimou, Reich, Maxwell Davies and more in Manchester (3nd), café gigs for Philharmonia Orchestra members in London (9th, 13th)

29 Nov

Four classical gigs for December…

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Emre Engin & Jennifer Hughes: ‘A Journey to the Musical Plateaus’
1901 Arts Club, 7 Exton Street, Waterloo, London, SE1 8UE, England
Thursday 1st December 2016, 6.30pm

With this 1901 Club chamber recital, violinist Emre Engin quietly caps the first phase of an exciting international career (which began with his studies at the Uludag University State Conservatory in Anatolia, Turkey, and has moved through the Royal College of Music in London and the Manhattan School of Music in New York to his current status as in-demand, prize-winning London-based soloist, trio leader and educator). As well as music by Bach, Prokofiev and Paganini, the concert includes the world premiere of Emre’s own first significant composition ‘A piece for violin and piano (in memoriam of an unborn child)’.

Emre is accompanied by another prize-winning musician – pianist Jennifer Hughes. A Park Lane Group Artist and cross-Europe performer specialising in duo accompaniment and piano songs, Jennifer (reknowned for her skill as a supportive musician) also coaches work at the Royal College of Music, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, New Virtuosi Mastercourse and Voksenåsen Summer Academy.


Johann Sebastian Bach – Solo Sonata No.2 in A minor (incorporating the Fuga by Alfred Schnittke)
Emre Engin – A piece for violin and piano (in memoriam of an unborn child) (world premiere)
Nicolò Paganini – Caprice No.15
Sergei Prokofiev – Violin and Piano Sonata No.2 in D major, Op.94bis

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Psappha, 3rd December 2016

Curated Place/Moving Classics & Psappha present:
Psappha Soloists: ‘Metallics’
St Michael’s Church, 36-38 George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 5DG, England
Saturday 3rd December 2016, 7.30pm

Several of the players from Manchester contemporary classical ensemble Psappha congregate in their hometown for a concert of current music. “Featuring emerging composers alongside established twentieth century greats the programme has been curated to showcase Psappha’s virtuoso musicians in an eclectic mix of music that – along with tape and electronics – explores the sonorities of each individual instrument. The centrepiece of this performance is the world première of Stylianos Dimou‘s ‘Metallics’, in which acoustic sounds undergo electronic transformation resulting in the assembly of sonic twins.”


Steve Reich – Cello Counterpoint (for cello and multitrack tape)
Peter Maxwell Davies – Sonatina (for violin & cimbalom)
Helmut Lachenmann – Toccatina (for solo violin)
Jonathan Harvey – Tombeau de Messiaen (for piano and electronics)
Tom Harrold – Speechless Skies (for solo cello)
Nuria Bonet Filella – Pota (for cimbalom and electronics)
Charlotte Bray – Oneiroi (for solo piano)
Stylianos Dimou – Metallics (world première)

Benjamin Powell (piano)
Tim Williams (cimbalom)
Benedict Holland (violin)
Jennifer Langridge (cello)

Below is a videoclip of an Psapphas renderings of one of the pieces on the bill, to give you an idea of how the concert will run. As for the Stylianos Dimou piece, here’s a soundclip of an earlier, recently-recorded ensemble piece which probably has little to do with the form and execution of ‘Metallics’ but which does provide a window on his “conception of structure as a fluid and sculpted entity that can be conceived as a byproduct of microscopic manipulation of the timbral and gestural dimensions of music” expressed via “blurred sonorities, harmonic fluidity and gestural formation.”


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Philharmonia Orchestra chamber players (photo © Marina Vidor)

Philharmonia Orchestra chamber players (photo © Marina Vidor)

Back down in London, various musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra are playing a pair of evening/late-night shows at Brasserie Zédel. While the big January show’s already sold out, tickets are still available for a couple of smaller December shows featuring subdivisions of the orchestra.

The first of the two shows offers “a unique opportunity to hear members of the cello section in this late night show in an eclectic mix of music, imbued with virtuosity, soaring melodies and infectious dance rhythms”, featuring pieces by Mozart, Wagner, Nicolò Paganini and Astor Piazzola, as well as the lesser-known but compositionally prolific German cellist-composer Julius Klengel (who produced hundreds of etudes and solo works for the instrument during his late nineteenth/early twentieth-century lifetime). The concert will also feature a newer piece by Philharmonia-affiliated contemporary British composer Richard Birchall – ‘Viral’, a five-minute cello quartet.

In the second show, violinist Emily Davis, viola player Gijs Kramers and cellist Maria Zachariadou will perform Dmitry Sitkovetsky‘s string trio arrangement of Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’.

Live At Zédel presents:
Philharmonia Orchestra cello section
Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, London W1F 7ED, England
Friday 9th December 2016, 10.00pm

Live At Zédel presents:
Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra
Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, London W1F 7ED, England
Tuesday 13th December 2016, 7.00pm

September 2016 – upcoming London classical and classical fusion gigs – Kimiko Ishizaka’s completion of Bach’s Art of Fugue at St Johns Smith Square (23rd); Ayako Fujiki launches ‘brightwater’ at the 1901 Arts Club and St Olave’s Hart Street (28th & 29th)

15 Sep

Here’s a quick scoot around a pair of London classical gigs coming up this month from two very different Japanese pianists – one specialising in pure yet innovative interpretations of baroque masterpieces, the other using romantic keyboard works as a springboard towards her own neo-romantic classical-fusion compositions.

Once again, most of what I’ve got here is press-release turnover…

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Kimiko Ishizaka (photo © Philippe Ramaker)

Kimiko Ishizaka (photo © Philippe Ramaker)

Kimiko Ishizaka: ‘J.S. Bach: ‘Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080′. Completed.’
St John’s Smith Square, Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3HA, England
Friday 23rd September 2016, 6.30pm

“A mesmerizing completion of one of the most challenging
keyboard works of all times. Confronting the ultimate tragedy of music history, German-Japanese pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, (renowned for her highly-praised, best-selling recordings of Bach), presents her completion of Bach’s unfinished masterpiece, ‘Die Kunst der Fuge’, BWV 1080.

“Upholding the musical logic of Bach, yet offering an expressive response, Kimiko’s approach was based on a thorough study of all preceding fugues, coupled with a conviction that Bach would have concluded with something powerful, dramatic, expressive and architecturally true to the existing musical structures. Premiered in March 2016 in Cologne, Germany, ‘Die Kunst der Fuge, komplett’ comes to the UK for the first time this September.

“Kimiko’s sound production is strongly influenced by her success as a competitive athlete and her exploration of the physical mechanisms that are responsible for creating any given sound on the piano. Never listening to other pianists’ recordings, Kimiko takes inspiration purely from her own imagination. Her history also involves recording Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ in 2012 as part of her Open Goldberg project – this was the first recording to be fan-funded, open source and completely free. Her 2015 release of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’, also fan-funded, was a number-one best-selling commercial success and is regarded by some critics as their favorite recording of the work.”

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If you’d prefer something lighter, then there’s always the option of seeing Ayako Fujiki in a couple of shows right at the end of the month. There’s a clip of her below, in concert, performing one of her more fusion-based projects – admittedly, the New Age minimalism might not be everyone’s cup of tea (and yes, I do mean you, occasional reader who drops in sometimes because I also cover noise-rockers playing in various throat-cellars). But I’ve got to admit that I like the way Ayako simultaneously handles a concert grand, a cherry-red workstation and a backslung white keytar, all whilst resisting the urge to throw a set of glammy Rick Wakeman shapes.


Ayako’s upcoming London concerts showcase a more acoustic, neoclassical side to her music. While it might be touched and partially shaped – like much crossover work – by its composer’s work in advertising and incidental soundtracking (the associated video has the air of a fashion-shoot, with Ayako making much of both her personal beauty and her sense of poise and presentation), the music retains its own airy substance. In some respects, it’s similar to the neo-romantic Chopin-esque compositions which made David Lanz a New Age star in the 1980s (even as he steered well clear of that genre’s more insipid failings). More details on Ayako’s work and inspirations follow:

Ayako Fujiki @ 1901 Club, 28th September 2016“A virtuosic Japanese pianist born in Tokyo, and a concert performer from the age of seven, Ayako Fujiki was influenced by the riches of European culture and fell in love with the energy and diversity of Spanish classical music. She chose to move to the vibrant and eclectic city of Barcelona to study under renowned pianists such as Alicia de Larrocha (one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century, and also the first Spanish artist to win the UNESCO prize).

“Still based in Barcelona, Ayako continues to explore the duality between Japanese and Mediterranean heritage and culture. Combining her rigorous classical background with contemporary taste and technique, Ayako finds inspiration in romantic, world, minimal, electronic and even Japanese contemporary epic music.


“Having established herself as a leading classical concert performer on the Spanish music scene, and having released three albums interpreting work by other composers from Schubert to Debussy to Granados), Ayako’s current release ‘brightwater’ allows her to engage on a more personal creative level through the development of her own compositions. She has previously composed orchestrated pieces with piano and a variety of other instruments for films, advertising and documentaries, incorporating classical and electronic musical techniques.

Ayako Fujiki @ St Olaves Hart Street, 29th September 2016“‘brightwater’ comprises pieces written for solo piano, two pianos and piano trio. It was recorded in Barcelona with contributions from Cristian Chivu (violinist and concertmaster of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Barcelona y Nacional de Cataluña) and Cristoforo Pestalozzi (lead cellist in the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu). The album propels the listener through a unique combination of cultures.

“Contributing to the established chronicle of musicians and composers taking inspiration from nature, the album offers Ayako’s reflections on the transience of landscapes, forests, rippling water and broken stones: capturing the beauty of eroded nature, she translates the slow but persistent effect of the natural elements on rocks and trees.”

The two London dates are as follows:

  • 1901 Arts Club, 7 Exton Street, Waterloo, London, SE1 8UE, England, Wednesday 28th September 2016, 5.00pm (album launch event)information
  • St. Olave Hart Street, St Olave’s Hart Street, 8 Hart Street, City of London, London, EC3R 7NB, England, Thursday 29th September 2016, 1:05pminformation

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Incidentally, and returning to the subject of keytars – if anyone’s interested in the idea of an eighteenth-century version, there’s one being played here…



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