) BLONDEL, OF ARMS AND A WOMAN, First Hand Records FHR69. We go back at least three centuries now for medieval wind music performed by the ensemble Blondel. Here we have shawms (early oboes), recorders and even bagpipes, along with the occasional sackbut (like a trombone) or slide trumpet, and an assortment of percussion instruments including tambor, frame drum and tamburello. So an eclectic mix, and on a disc of a lot of relatively short tracks, this means there’s an incredible variety of textures and timbres. The overarching inspiration for the disc, which is titled Of Arms And A Woman, is the work of Christine de Pizan (1364-c.1430), described in the notes as ‘a forthright feminist, writer, political theorist, royal agony aunt and author of selfhelp books’, and most surprisingly perhaps, the author of The Book Of Fayttes Of Arms And Of Chivalrye, a highly influential manual on modern warfare, of which Henry VII commissioned an English translation. Although performed here instrumentally, most if not all the pieces were originally chansons or vocal settings, drawing on a wide variety of texts. There are the
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) ALEX MCCARTNEY, WEISS IN NOSTALGIA, Veterum Musica VM019. Silvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1850), a contemporary of JS Bach, has been a bit of recent discovery for me, and regular readers will have read about several recordings of his music in these pages. Lutenist Alex McCartney (another favourite) has brought us more of this lutenistcomposer’s wonderful compositions on his latest disc, Weiss in Nostalgia. In the notes, McCartney explains this title in a rather roundabout way, which might seem rather technical – he performs the works on a 13-course lute, basically an instrument with additional bass strings that would have appeared later than when Weiss composed the two early Suites he plays here. So he has the idea of an older Weiss performing his early compositions on a larger, more ‘upto-date’ instrument. This might not be particularly discernible to anyone not versed in the myriad forms of instruments in the lute family, but there is nevertheless definitely a rather wistful, nostalgic atmosphere here. This might be partly to do with the very resonant, close recording, which makes for strong sense of intimacy in McCartney’s playing. But the opening Prelude of the Suite No. 1, for example, immediately establishes a serene, calm atmosphere, followed up in the elegiac Allemande that follows. Nothing is rushed, with a gentle lilt to the Courante, and Menuets played with grace and poise. Only the Gigue lifts the tempo with a bounce in its step, and McCartney expertly brings out the melodic bass and tenor lines from within the texture in the closing Gavotte. The shorter Suite No. 13 that follows has richer, thicker textures, yet McCartney’s playing is never too heavy. The Courante is rich and flowing, and the final Menuet has drone-like repeated bass notes, presumably with added emphasis on the 13-course instrument. Whilst clearly challenging music to play, this is never overly showy,
and McCartney consistently plays with grace and delicacy, making this a joy to listen to.
(1370-1412) Le Ray Au Soleyl, and the atmospheric dance for bagpipes with tamburello of Guillaume de Machaut’s (1300-1377) Je Vivroie Liement, this is a fascinating collection, well worth exploration.
01273 709709, www.brightondome.org ) The Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Barry Wordsworth (2.45pm, Sun 3), take us on a musical travelogue, including Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides Overture, Honegger’s Pacific 231, Eric Coates’ London Suite and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien. ) They return (2.45pm, Sun 17) to perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Steven Osborne (piano), Chabrier, and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.
ASSEMBLY HALL Worthing, 01903 206206, www.worthingtheatres.co.uk ) The Worthing Symphony Orchestra (2.45pm, Sunday 10) perform Chabrier, Debussy and Bizet, and is joined by Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) for Berlioz’s Harold in Italy and Alwyn’s Pastoral Fantasy.
ST MARTIN’S CHURCH Lewes Rd, Brighton www.bremf.org.uk ) You can hear all three of Brighton Early Music Festival’s choirs: BREMF Consort of Voices, the BREMF Singers and the BREMF Community Choir (8pm, Thur 21) in a timely celebration of the European Day of Early Music, with music by Handel, Purcell, Charpentier, Tallis, Byrd, Taverner, Mouton and more!
ALL SAINTS CHURCH Hove, www.bfc.org.uk ) Brighton Festival Chorus and Brighton Festival Youth Choir, with the Arcadian Ensemble, conducted by James Morgan (7.30pm, Sat 23), perform Britten’s St Nicolas, plus music by Tallis, Holst and Imogen Heap, with orchestral music by Elgar and Vaughan Williams.
ACCA University of Sussex, 01273 678822, www.attenboroughcentre.com ) The Aquinas Piano Trio (11am, Sun 24) perform Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann. usual themes of love and loss, but also a medieval call to arms in A Cheval, Tout Home A Cheval, and the slightly unsettling Gardez Le Trait De La Fenestre (Beware The Arrow From The window). Only one text is by Pizan herself, a poem of grief over the loss of her husband, Dueil Angoisseus (Agonising grief), set by Gilles Binchois (c.14001460). As detailed are the notes about the music, the connection to Pizan and the overall theme is not always entirely apparent. However, the contrast between the slightly
AQUINAS PINO TRIO
BY NICK BOSTON
BTN FESTIVAL CHORUS
more rustic, eastern-sounding bagpipes, the lively shawms and the more subdued and subtle recorders, as well as the occasional splashes of percussion, allow the five performers here to demonstrate impressive range and versatility. From the folky bounce and rhythmic energy of A Cheval, Tout Home A Cheval, played on shawms to the strange rhythms in canon for recorders of Johannes Ciconia’s
CONGRESS THEATRE Eastbourne, 01323 412000, www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk ) The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Darrell Ang (3pm, Sun 24), perform Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with Kian Soltani (cello).
CINEMA ) The MET Opera’s production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment live (Sat 2, repeated other dates), with Pretty Yende and Javier Camarena. ) You can see their production of Wagner’s Die Walküre (Sat 30), with Christine Goerke, Stuart Skelton and Eva-Maria Westbroek. In a range of local cinemas, including: Duke of York’s/Duke’s at the Komedia, Brighton, Cineworld Eastbourne, and the Picture House, Uckfield. Check for times.
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