Reviews of concerts, 2008-09


Concert on 28 October 2008: Nicola Sharkey (soprano) and Brian Cotterill (piano and organ)

The following review appeared in the local press

Popular duo in lunchtime concert

Nicola Sharkey and Brian Cotterill are great favourites with the audiences at the Music at Lunchtime concerts held at Farnham United Reformed Church on Tuesdays. The concert they gave on 28 October 2008 consisted of songs given by Nicola with an all-too-brief organ interlude from Brian.

It was very good to have the complete words printed in the programme, with translations into English where needed. A case in point was the first song, "O toi, qui prolongeas mes jours", from Iphigenia in Tauris by Gluck, where an understanding of the words was needed in order to follow the meaning of the wonderful music.

That song was followed by the atmospheric "Die Nacht" by Richard Strauss showing (as so often) his mastery of word setting shared between the voice and the piano where the coda expresses in music what cannot be expressed in words.

A change of mood followed with "Before I gaze at you again", Guinevere's farewell to Lancelot, as set in the musical Camelot (words by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Lowe) - a different style of musical expression which did not imply any lowering of standards.

The two final songs in this first group were two little gems: "The Lilacs", by Rachmaninoff, with a finely spun silken melody over the most delicate accompaniment, and "Music, when soft voices die", a favourite song by that underrated English composer Roger Quilter.

It was now the turn of Brian to play the newly refurbished Henry Jones organ: he gave us Arthur Wills' Procession, a piece that is both stately and exciting with crunchy chords, showing the dramatic colours of the organ to great effect.

There were four songs in the second half. The first, "Silent Noon", in Nicola's performance, showed Vaughan Williams' consummate skill as a composer of lieder. It was followed by three folk songs, "O waly waly" from Somerset, the Scots "O can ye sew cushions?" (with beautiful top notes on the word "baw" in the refrain "And hee and baw, birdie...") and Phyllis Tate's lovely arrangement of "The lark in the clear air" from Nicola's native Ireland.

That was the end of the programme as printed, but we were treated to an encore, the wistful "Wee Hughie", by John Larchet, which made a fitting end to a most enjoyable concert.

John Mansfield

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Concert on 21 April 2009: Camilla Allison (violin) and Alan Winn (piano and organ)

The following review was submitted to the local press

Enterprising duo

Camilla Allison and Alan Winn make an enterprising duo: Camilla is an excellent violinist and Alan a fine organist. As it happens, Camilla is also an organist and Alan a viola player, but at the lunchtime concert they gave on Tuesday 21st April at Farnham United Reformed Church they kept to violin and organ respectively, with one reception, when Alan went to the piano.
Alan started the concert with a spirited performance of Bach's Prelude in G major, BWV 568. Camilla followed with the well-known Preludio from Bach's Partita in E major for violin solo. This virtuoso piece was followed by another, the G minor Chaconne by Tomaso Vitali, accompanied this time by Alan on the piano. He then reverted to the organ to play a quieter piece, Monologue in E major by Josef Rheinberger, before another fiery duet, the Praeludium and Allegro by G. Pugnani, arranged by Fritz Kreisler. Finally Alan rounded off this highly enjoyable concert with a Nachspiel by Anton Bruckner, building up to an impressive climax on full organ.


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