Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Society is on Monday 29 October at 7:30 as usual and will be a presentation by Ian Lace on Debussy and Ravel – two great French composers.  We look forward to seeing you there.  It is GDP3 for non-members.  Parking is outside the door and is free.  Appropriate venue for people with mobility difficulties.


Member’s Evening

Member’s Evening on 15 October 2018

We held our first member’s evening this season and it turned out to be excellent.  A small, but perfectly formed selection of music was put forward and we heard a mixture of old favourites and some completely new pieces.

We started with a concerto in D by Johann Fasch a contemporary of Bach and Telemann.  Not a composer we have heard played before I think so it was interesting to hear this.

This was followed by the familiar K393 Solfeggio and the Great Mass in c minor by Mozart.  This was followed by some extracts from Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

A surprise addition was John Downland’s songs Go Crystal Tears, Mrs Winter’s Jump and I saw my Lady Weep.  Forward in time to the romance from Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust which resulted in a considerable financial loss for the composer.

Finally, and perhaps to shake everyone up, we heard the Drunkard from Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. A rumbustious piece to finish the first half.  This composition was banned from performance in Russia and led the composer to live in fear of his freedom.

After the break it was Darius Milhaud’s suite for alto sax Scaramouche.

This was followed by some songs which may have been played in Shakespeare’s plays presented from his own disc by Jeremy Barlow.  This will merit a fuller presentation in future.

We finished with a live recording of Mahler’s symphony No 8 (final two sections) which rounded the meeting off wonderfully.

So we spanned the centuries and the styles and heard the new and the familiar.

Peter Curbishley

Next meeting on 29th October

In Central Asia

The last meeting of the Society focused on the music of Central Asia.  The area includes such countries as Dagestan, Armenia, Georgia and Chechnya.  It has had a troubled history.  There were the Armenian massacres after the Great War and recently there has been fighting in Chechnya.

The music from this area is a little overlooked as attention is normally paid to the big Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov.  Robin Lim’s presentation was a welcome peek into this area and an introduction to some overlooked composers.

The first is a composer not overlooked, namely Borodin and his lovely ‘In Central Asia’ which captures beautifully the expansive nature of the country.  In addition to being a composer, Borodin was a chemist and made contributions to organic chemistry working on aldehydes.

Back in time to an Armenian composer from the 5th century, Stephanos Syunets with a performance of ‘Pharaoh with his Chariots.’

Khachaturian is of course famous and was the first composer to successfully fuse western and Armenian music and to make it accessible to the rest of the world.  He was one of those who suffered during the time of Stalin, his music being deemed ‘unpatriotic’.  One of his pieces Spartacus, featured in the ‘Onedin Line’ older readers may remember.

Alexander Arutiunian is not a name which comes readily to the lips but his allegro from Concertina for Piano and Orchestra composed in 1951 was quite unusual.  We heard a version played by his daughter Narine.

Then on the Georgia to hear David Oistrakh play part of Taktakishvili’s Concerino for violin and small orchestra.

This was followed by pieces by Kancheli, Niyazi, Hajibeyov, Gliere and Amirov.  Names almost unknown outside their countries.

The meeting took place on the day of Charles Aznavour’s sad death in Paris.  Aznavour, originally, Aznavourian, was from Armenia.

Members thanked Robin for his hard work in ferreting out some most unusual items, pieces that are rarely played by composers who do not deserve to be forgotten.  Once again the Society was successful in introducing members to lesser known works.

Peter Curbishley

While you’re here, members might like to see a video I made at a concert in Montpellier, France.  It was probably unique in that the audience sat among the orchestra while it played.  You can see it on YouTube.  There were large numbers of children who despite fidgeting a lot, were quiet and absorbed with what was going on.  They played Elgar amongst other composers and the event was called Au Coeur de l’orchestrePC