Reviews of concerts, 2014-15


Concert on 7th October 2014: Fumi Otsuki, violin, and Neus Guiu Ritort, piano

The following review was submitted to the local press:

The eighteenth annual season of Music at Lunchtime at Farnham United Reformed Church began on Tuesday 7th October with a concert given by Fumi Otsuki, the Japanese violinist, accompanied by Neus Guiu Ritort from Spain.

Their concert opened confidently with the striking first movement of Mendelssohn's sonata in F for violin and piano, a rippling movement which provided some 15 minutes of sheer joy.

Smetana's From the Homeland gave the audience an idea of the way the composer felt about his native Bohemia. From the opening to the fiery ending with many changes of mood these virtuoso pieces were thoroughly delightful.

The third item was a little more light-hearted: the Rondino on a theme of Beethoven by Kreisler, very tuneful and enjoyable.

Finally Fumi played the magnificent first movement from the sonata for violin solo in G minor by J. S. Bach, an impressive piece of musical architecture if ever there was one.

The next concert in the series is to be given on Tuesday 4th November at 1.10 pm by Jayne Sylvester (mezzo-soprano) and Richard Gun Cuninghame (baritone) with their accompanist Alison Blenkinsop.

Concert on 4th November 2014: Jayne Sylvester, mezzo soprano, Richard Gun Cuninghame, baritone, and Alison Blenkinsop, piano

The following review appeared in the local press:

The concert on Tuesday, November 4, at Farnham United Reformed Church as part of the regular Music at Lunchtime series was given by Jayne Sylvester, mezzo soprano, and Richard Gun Cuninghame, baritone, with their accompanist Alison Blenkinsop on the piano.

The programme started with two popular duets, Harry M. Woods' When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' along, and They didn't believe me, by Jerome Kern. Jayne's experience on stage helped to establish the good rapport with the audience with these two numbers.

Richard sang three quieter songs next: Roger Quilter's setting of Tennyson's words Now sleeps the crimson petal, Stanford's A soft day, and J.L. Molloy's Love's old sweet song, all three well-crafted songs, beautifully sung.

Gabriel Fauré died on 4th November 1924, so the concert was on the ninetieth anniversary of his death. It was especially fitting, therefore, that three of his songs were on the programme, sung by Jayne, who thoughtfully provided a translation from the original French.

Another contrast followed: Richard gave us The Rose of Tralee by C.W. Glover, a romantic ballad, and the witty And her mother came too, from the show A to Z by Ivor Novello. Jayne reversed the order by singing the witty I can't say no from Oklahoma! by Rogers and Hammerstein and the romantic Waltz of my heart from The dancing years by Ivor Novello.

The concert ended, as it began, with a duet: We'll gather lilacs, another song by the ever-popular Ivor Novello. So the concert provided contrasts between the familiar and the less well-known, the English and French languages, solo and duet, and serious and humorous songs. Alison Blenkinsop, the accompanist, caught the mood of every song faultlessly.

The next concert in the series is to be given by another pianist, Emilie Capulet, on 2nd December at 1.10 pm. Her programme is of works by Maurice Ravel.

Concert on 2nd December 2014: Emilie Capulet. piano

The following review was submitted to the local press

It is rarely that such a fine pianist is heard at lunchtime at Farnham United Reformed Church as Emilie Capulet, who gave the December concert in the Music at Lunchtime series. With a unique background in literature, drama and music, Emilie has built a strong reputation as a guest speaker, giving lecture-recitals at international literary and music conferences, and the spoken introductions she gave to each of the pieces she played added a great deal to the enjoyment experienced by the audience.


Emilie's first piece was Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Défunte (Pavane for a dead infanta), a title which Ravel is said to have chosen purely because of the euphonious sound of the words in the title. Emilie explained that it was not a work mourning the deceased infanta, but a re-creation of the pavane that the infanta might have danced had she been alive, quite a different idea.


L'Isle Joyeuse, by Debussy, seems to have been written at the time of a holiday he had spent on Jersey with Emma Bardac, who he later married, though the island of the title is really the isle of Cythara, so memorably painted by Watteau. Cythara is the Island of Aphrodite and in consequence the music is full, not only of joy, but also of mystery.


Several years after Debussy composed L'Isle Joyeuse Ravel composed Gaspard de la Nuit, based on extraordinary poems by Aloysius Bertrand which at that time had not been published. Emilie provided copies of the poems (with English translations) which were a great help in understanding this complex music.


The combination of eloquence, virtuosity and poetry, both in the programme and clearly in the performance, made the concert a most memorable occasion.


The next concert in the Music at Lunchtime series will take place on Tuesday 3rd February at 1.10 when the performers will be students from Lord Wandsworth College.


Concert on 3rd February 2015: Students from Lord Wandsworth College

The following review appeared in the local press

On Tuesday, February 2, there was snow on the ground and many people were worried that the Music at Lunchtime concert at Farnham United Reformed Church would have to be cancelled because of the adverse weather.

But the staff and students at Lord Wandsworth College met the challenge admirably and in spite of coughs and colds (which unfortunately made three of the performers withdraw) they gave an excellent performance.

The varied programme included two guitarists: George Janes played Rio by Night, by V. I. Clark, and Simon Simonov played the engaging Milonga by Jorde Cardoso.

Hannah Evans is a flautist and she played the first two movements of a sonata by the German flautist J. J. Quantz and her sister Jess played the lively Rag and Bone Rag on the trombone.

There were two oboists: India Maybrook-Walker played the first movement of a concerto in C by Albinoni and Helen Frawley finished the concert with an impressive performance of the first two movements of a sonata in A minor by Telemann.

Kat Luckraft started the proceedings by singing George Gershwin's witty song The Lorelei, and there were two boy singers. Nick Evershed, tenor, sang a recitative and aria from Handel's Messiah.

Nick is only 14, so his voice can hardly have settled after breaking. It will be interesting to see how he matures in the next few years.

Alex Bradshaw, on the other hand, is still a treble, and he sang We kiss in a shadow from The King and I by Rogers and Hammerstein. His performance was full of confidence and his enunciation exemplary.

Edwin Rolles accompanied the two boy singers, who were his pupils, and Lauren Griffin, the Director of Music for the College, provided a confidence-inspiring accompaniment for the other performers.

The next concert in the Music at Lunchtime series, the last this season, is to be given by Sarah Douglas, clarinet, and Amy Wakefield, piano, on Tuesday, April 14.

Concert on 14 April 2015: Sarah Douglas, clarinet, and Amy Wakefield, piano

The following review appeared in the local press

Season ends on a high

The last concert in any season should be a hit; and that was certainly so in the concluding concert of the 2014-15 season of Music at Lunchtime at Farnham United Reformed Church.

The concert was given by Sarah Douglas (clarinet) and Amy Wakefield (piano) and the first item set the tone. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was played in a very effective arrangement by Benny Goodman. We are used to hearing the original version for virtuoso pianist and jazz band but this version was memorable with its equally virtuosic piano part and clarinet solo right from the famous opening glissando to the vigorous ending.

Paul Reade's charming suite from the Kitchen Garden, arranged from the incidental music he wrote for a television programme in 1987, seemed very gentle after Gershwin but was none the worse for that. It is a delightful set of pieces and Sarah and Amy clearly enjoyed playing them together.

After that, Amy played two of Schubert's much-loved impromptus, those in G flat and A flat from opus 90: two more pieces clearly loved by the performer.

The concert finished with a performance of Vittorio Monti's famous Czardas, originally written for violin and piano but just as good on clarinet and piano when played as convincingly as it was here. So the season came to a triumphant conclusion.

The new season of Music at Lunchtime starts on Tuesday, October 6, at 1.10pm when the performers will be River City Saxes, who gave such a memorable concert in October 2013.