Saturday, 2 July 2022

Crap adverts : #SpamFolderTreasures

Crap adverts : #SpamFolderTreasures

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

2 July

Crap adverts : #SpamFolderTreasures












































Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

The Death on The Screen ? (2022) Tweets

The Death on The Screen ? (2022) Tweets

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

5 June

The Death on The Screen ? (2022) Tweets


Maslow and the needs that drive human behaviour ?










































Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Who is Ingmar Bergman in Fanny og Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) (1982) ?

Who is Ingmar Bergman in Fanny og Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) (1982) ?

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

5 June

Who is Ingmar Bergman in Fanny og Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) (1982) ?



















Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Festival report : PRISMA, in Streets of London, first at St Nicholas Church, Beverley, and then PRISMA At The Pub (Monks Walk Inn)

Festival report : PRISMA, first at St Nicholas Church, Beverley, and then PRISMA At The Pub

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 May

Festival report : PRISMA in Streets of London, first at St Nicholas Church, Beverley, at 1.00 p.m.
and then PRISMA At The Pub (Monks Walk Inn) at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 28 May 2022


Hearts on their sleeves, but also frolic and fun


Personnel (alphabetical order) :

* Elisabeth Champollion ~ recorders
* Franciska Hajdu ~ violin, voice
* Soma Salat-Zakariás ~ viola da gamba, voice
* Alon Sariel ~ mandolin, arch-lute


After the early-music pilgrimage from Beverley Minster to St Nicholas Church (following the concert at 11.00 a.m. by Sarbacanes), an unannounced start, with Franciska Hajdu entering, playing her violin, in the opening 'Hornpipe', a number from one of John Playford's collections. Then, moving into the second tune from Playford ['Johnny, Cock thy Beaver'], with Elisabeth Champollion on recorder, bringing – not a little as with Red Priest's Piers Adams – some dance-moves and funky attitude, and 'playing at' Alon Sariel (on mandolin), before a lead-in from Hajdu into the third tune ['Newcastle'], and some more posing and dancing from Champollion.


The first set of tunes was suitably met with very enthusiastic applause, and Champollion told us that PRISMA had been trying to come to play for two years (apparently, as we later learnt in PRISMA At The Pub, originally at a York Christmas Early Music Festival), and swapping 120 e-mails and the like with The National Centre for Early Music. (Arriving in Beverley at 7.00 p.m. the night before (and via York), they had made a tour of 7 or 8 pubs, to try Beverley's ales – although, not unwisely, only going inside three of them, and also stopping at an early enough point.)


Next, in a set of four traditional tunes, the violin was strummed [in 'Trip it upstairs'], and then Hajdu started us with the second tune ['My wife's a wanton wee thing'], duetting with Sariel (now on arch-lute). When Soma Salat-Zakariás, on viola da gamba, joined in with these tunes, the role that he was playing was not a little like that of a drone - though, having said which, all of the players could be heard to vary their style, attack¹ and affect during the concert, according to the needs of the repertoire.

We now had virtuoso spots for, in order, gamba, mandolin, violin and recorder. Of the instrumentalists, Sariel seemed most obviously to be embellishing his line, and, in the next tune², to be improvising to riff with the melody-line of the violin. Again, this lively and fresh playing was valued by the audience at St Nicholas (and, later, at Monks Walk Inn, which was a straight reprise of the morning's concert, but in a more intimate space, where - in addition to hearing #UCFF's laptop fall (when trying to transcribe the review-notes from earlier...) - the members of PRISMA could be seen close to, and adapting to a tighter performance-area).


At PRISMA at The Pub we were treated to an encore, from their newer album Il transilvano

Hajdu started us in the second set of traditional tunes, five in number and beginning with 'Archibald McDonald of Keppoch', which was another in which we heard a drone effect, and with improvisation under the melody-line, when Sariel had swapped instruments for the arch-lute : a number that was very feelingly and tellingly played. Next, a combination of gamba and lute gave us another phlegmatic tune ('Daphne'), before moving into something with spirit as well as sadness, 'The Star of County Down' :

A song in which Salat-Zakariás performed the lead vocal, with all four players standing as we sang the chorus (which, with the invitation to do so, had been printed in our programmes), before, alongside Sariel, we heard Champollion on a lower-pitched recorder, and a different approach with those instruments and the gamba, and then an instrumental section ('Musical Priest' ?). Here, Sariel reverted to mandolin, and Hajdu and Champollion led the way into the final two tunes ('Cooley's Reel' and 'Swallowtail Jig'), with all four members of PRISMA 'playing up' the tunes to conclude the set.


'All in a Garden Green', from Playford, opened with a solo from Salat-Zakariás, whereas - in a contrasting mood in 'Drive the Cold Winter Away', which Playford also gives us - we principally had the sounds of lute and bass (?) recorder, quietly conjuring the season that had just been evoked. Without a pause after these two numbers, and with strong feeling, Hajdu sang 'The Skye Boat-Song'.

Some may have realized that – with the reference to the dead on Culloden field – we were a century on from the nominal London, 1651 stated in our programme-notes : we were back to sadder thoughts and times, with the gamba played pizzicato, and that affect continued in 'Neil Gow's Lament for his second wife', with a subtle gamba drone, and gentle lute and violin, and, last, 'Londonderry Air', sympathetically given on the lute to emotional, but not over-emotional, playing on the gamba.


At the beginning of the last set of Playford tunes (where, with 'Upon A Summer's Day' (and then 'Goddesses'), we were back to warmer climes), and entertaingly using the gestures and facial expressions of mime to give us instructions, Soma Salat-Zakariás sub-divided the audience at St Nicholas, and then further sub-divided the side, to his right³, across the aisle. [He was inviting us, variously, to rub the palms of our hands over each other (in a four-beat pattern, of three longer strokes and one short one), click our fingers (in a two-stroke pattern, alternating our hands), or to perform a third group of percussive actions, which appeared to involve patting the legs and clapping.] This band certainly knows how to party - and to make a party go with a fizz !


By the time of Henry Purcell's scene-evoking 'Hornpipe' Rondeau (from The Fairy-Queen, Z. 629), Hajdu and Champollion were standing alongside each other, and PRISMA began their take on it with viola da gamba and violin – lute and recorder joined in afterwards and took the piece onwards, with Champollion now on a soprano (?) instrument.

Already, as it had been hinted that we 'might' expect – somewhere in this sequence of pieces – some new material (or twinkly mischief ?), momentarily there appeared to be a motivic hint of something afoot, just before we properly landed in what had to be the sound-world of Nicola Matteis (c. 1650 – c. 1714) and his 'Ground after The Scotch Humour' : here, in the sense of a ground bass, with a duet above it.

However, the prepared surprise proved not to be far off, for, almost as soon as we seemed to have started on the second Purcell 'Hornpipe' Rondeau on the programme⁴, PRISMA amusingly launched into something extremely familiar, morphing into a principal theme from the realm of cinema (and a mime of a well-known moment from the film⁵) – the joke and its own humour were very well judged, timed and executed.


After this touch of lightness, we were next given an atmospheric version of the title-track, Ralph McTell's 'Streets of London', with agile and reflective harmonization from Sariel, and with Champollion, on a larger recorder than previously (all of which we might have noticed her chambrée, under her jumper), playing below his line. Mandolin and gamba next gave us a duet in the traditional tune 'Carolan's Draught', before the mood changed, again, in Thomas Ford's vigorous 'Cate of Bardie' [again, as played by PRISMA in their video here].


As she was also to do in PRISMA at The Pub (by now, she had moved back to the other side of the performance-space), Champollion cut the applause short in favour of pressing on with the natural momentum of the programming, and, as she had done near the beginning of the gig, we could see Hajdu strumming her violin, before going back to energetically bowing it. If we had already been in any doubt, the mandolin, in Sariel's hands, was heard to be a very adaptable instrument in the last set of tunes, five traditional ones ['Jenny's Wedding', 'The Sailor's Wife', 'The Green Fields', 'Kerry Reel' and 'Tatter Jack Walsh'].


As a whole, this exciting ensemble is inside all these melodies and their harmonies, and then can obviously so easily and movingly breathe into and bend them, making them infectiously enjoyable !


End-notes :

¹ For example, by the manner of his playing, Sariel could make the mandolin sound more like a guitar.

² Following the tunes, one by one, in a set or four or five started to become more laborious, especially with players in a tradition where weaving the end of one into the start of the next is part of the skill and practice : however, the other tunes listed in the programme were 'The 9th of July' and 'Dusty Window-Sills'.

On which, the chance to repeat the experience, with PRISMA At The Pub, appeared to shed light : part of what Champollion was about, when standing on one leg and holding the other foot forward, now seemed to be signalling an invitation to make such a transition, as Hajdu could be seen in a return of the gesture, just before the ensemble finished its concluding tune.


³ In PRISMA at The Pub, where he gave spoken directions, Salat-Zakariás also joked with us about how his right was our left, physically making the point by turning himself around to face away from us.
⁴ From Abdelazer, Z. T683.


⁵ Without saying which one, it was taken from one of James Cameron's most well-known films – and, again, a touch very reminiscent of Red Priest (who had indeed played at this very Festival a couple of times in the preceding decade).





Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Festival report : Sarbacanes, in Beverley Minster, at Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival (uncorrected proof)

Festival report : Sarbacanes, in Beverley Minster, at Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 May

Festival report : Sarbacanes, in Beverley Minster, at Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival - Music for Garden and Table on Saturday 28 May at 11.00 a.m. (uncorrected proof)


Personnel (alphabetical order) :

* Gabriel Dambricourt ~ horn
* Neven Lesage ~ principal oboe
* Alejandro Pérez Marin ~ bassoon
* Félix Roth ~ principal horn
* Martin Roux ~ oboe
* Lucile Tessier ~ principal bassoon


[NB The designations of the principals have been inferred. Judging on what could be seen and heard in performance]



Programme :

1. Haydn - Divertimento in D Major

2. Mozart - Divertimento in F Major

3. Mozart – Three piece from Twelve Duos for Two Horns

4. Haydn - Divertimento in G Major

5. Salieri - Trio for Two Oboes and Bassoon

6. Mozart - Divertimento in B Flat Major



(1) Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809) - Divertimento in D Major, Hob. deest

The line-up of Sarbacanes was, left to right on the staging at Beverley Minster (which had been occupied the night before by Florilegium), two bassoons (Alejandro Pérez Marin and Lucile Tessier (principal)), two oboes (Neven Lesage (principal) and Martin Roux) and two horns (Gabriel Dambricourt and Félix Roth (principal)).

They began their recital with a Divertimento by Haydn, in which we could hear calls and responses, the bassoons, for example, in response to the oboes and horns : in a good way, a reedy and celebratory opening Allegro di molto, with virtuoso writing for principal bassoon (Tessier) and oboe (Lesage). In the Menuet, marked Allegretto, we heard the oboes and then the other instruments before tutti passages, and a duet of horn and bassoon in the Trio, in what is a perfect little miniature.

There is a certain grandiosity of style in the writing for the Poloneso (marked Adagio), but that for oboe was charmingly appealing, underplaying the ostensible 'grandeur'. Perhaps, in a reference now lost, there is Haydnesque joke in this movement, preparing us for the more obvious folly of the extremely short Presto finale ?


A humorous and lively start to this concert, which was clearly very pleasing to those present, and after which Neven Lesage, from the stage, introduced Sarbacanes, and what we could expect in the programme as a whole and in the next piece, another Divertimento, but this time by Mozart.


Birdsong, especially linnets, in a garden - and your favourite piece of cake ! ~ Neven Lesage



(2) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) - Divertimento in F Major, K. 253

A lovely and sensitively played opening theme, led by the bassoons, in what the words of introduction (and our programme-notes) made us aware was to be a set of variations on it :



More to come...



At the end, the brilliance of the oboes and the bassoons, and the sounding of the horns



(3) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) - Duos for Two Horns, K. 487, Nos 2, 10 and 1

Two French horns, played by two French persons ~ Félix Roth

Before these pieces, Félix Roth told us not only that, as a French person, it is a puzzle to him that the English language calls his instrument 'a French horn', but also that these Duos for Two Horns are celebration pieces - yet the central heart of the first one that we were played is deeply felt. The second even more closely resembled a proper human conversation, echoing the inflections of speech.

What was striking, here, were the subtlety of the sound and of the composition – how the duo instruments talk as one, as a quiet fanfare, in the third Duo, but with reflective (perhaps semi-humorous ?) moments.



(4) Haydn - Divertimento in G Major, Hob. deest (1670)

By way of oral introduction (by Neven Lesage again ?), we were told that this composition dates to 1670, so it is Classical, but that we would also find that it was Baroque.


It was, in fact, a little more like a Concerto Grosso in the initial Allegro, played with restraint and grace : in that movement and the Menuet, it contains bold statements of themes that yet do not seem overly bold, and then (without the horns) a different landscape emerged, before we were taken back to, maybe, some quiet 'Papa Haydn jokes' ?

In the Andante, Haydn very definitely presents his calling-card, setting out the material effectively, but with brevity, and well knowing how he will use its possibilities for euphony and to evoke a mood – he adds the sound of the horns to the bassoons, then the oboes, and next both, with a nice interplay between principal horn and bassoon.

The repeated Menuet calmly makes its return, and then, in the Presto, Haydn gives us another 'throw-away' manner of whisking us away at the end – 'Back to Reality'... ?


Such a delight, in a lively and vivid way, to hear this beautiful miniature in performance !



(5) Antonio Salieri (1750 – 1825) - Trio for Two Oboes and Bassoon***, in C Major :

Not exactly a blending of voices in these movements for Trio, since - in the Larghetto - the writing for bassoon seems subservient to the parts for the oboes.

The same was partly true in the Presto, although Pérez Marin had more licence there, with subdivided ornamentation and note-patterns in the harmonizing of what the other instruments were playing. A highly agreeable and affecting combination of sounds.


(6) Mozart - Divertimento in B Flat Major, K. 270

This second Divertimento by Mozart, and the final piece in the hour-long programme¹ was the jewel in the crown of this repertoire – although it may need saying, by way of explanation, that the relative lack of review-notes made during it in no way reflects, directly, on the quality of the music or its playing².


The scope of the work's conception is evident from the start, even if it was also likely to be a familiar, as well as elegant, piece of musicianship. (This impression may, in part, be an artefact of performance practice, in that we know what to expect. Even so, by any measure, does it not feel like a supremely and sublimely organic whole ?)

After its technical demands, the ensemble's sense of relief was plain at the end of the opening Allegro molto (not least in the light of our still understanding that they had a train to catch* - and to an extent were therefore, we believed, playing 'against the clock').


Mechanical clock, Lesage interpolated before the Andantino - the movement appears to speak through the oboe


With reference to the second Divertimento by Haydn that we had heard, Lindsay Kemp's programme-notes³ also alert us to the fact that 'The slow movement [...] seems determined to involve as many instrumental shadings as it can squeeze into 24 bars' – in which case, in the light of Neven Lesage's comment here about a Mozartian clock [unless he was instead, or as well, alluding to the chimes of noon having sounded in the Minster ?], perhaps not a wholly inapt number of bars, or coincidental that Tafelmusik might make unnoticed allusions to the passing of time... ?



More to come...



Both a good and spirited performance and piece of programming from a young group of players !


End-notes :

¹ The Festival's opening announcement, before the members of Sarbacanes materialized and made their way on stage, had made some suggestion that they had a train to catch and needed to start promptly at 11.00 a.m. – their being around afterwards, in a leisurely way, to talk to members of the audience means that their plans had changed (or we had been wrongly informed) :

Unlike some venues or events, the interaction with the performers has always been a feature of the Beverley and East Riding, and York, Festivals, which makes for a much more friendly and rounded experience.


² Rather, hearing the work played so beautifully, the original intention had been to re-listen to comment on it in detail, since a different type of concentration, especially at this time of the day, is required for listening to live performance of this quality (even during a music festival) : indeed, the playing was having the effect that the work's title indicates it should, with the result that the role of writer had simply slipped away, succumbing in favour of being a seduced member of the audience !

³ As Lindsay Kemp's programme-notes made us aware, here we were being played 'the dignified Larghetto from Trio No. 1, followed by the scurrying Presto from No. 3'.





Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Festival report : Florilegium, in Beverley Minster, at Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival

Festival report : Florilegium, in Beverley Minster, at Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

27 May

Festival report : Florilegium, in Beverley Minster, at Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival -
Friday 27 May at 7.00 p.m.

A feast of works by Johnann Sebastian Bach, 1685 – 1750


Programme (first half) :

1. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6

2. Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

3. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3


(1) Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, in B Flat Major, BWV 1051 (est. 1721)

Aetherial in the large and reverberant space of the nave of Beverley Minster, the sound-world and acoustic of Florilegium took some adjusting to, with the vertiginous rapidity of the note-values in BWV 1051, which sounded so much like a clock that's ticking down to Eternity.

This was a full and rich tone, with colour from Bojan Čičić (leader, and on viola in this Concerto, the last of the so-called Brandenburg Concertos), and the vibrant persistence of sound. Even more other-worldly than the very familiar theme of the closing Gigue, when – as in the first movement, marked Allegro – the motifs of the violas chased each other, there was majesty and grandeur in this playing, offset by respectful vivacity and loquacity.


(2) Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, in D Major, BWV 1050 (est. 1719)

Another quick tempo, but now with the sacrament of the flute, and the blessing of the harpsichord's being more to the fore, and, at times, a strong and thund'rous undertow, on double-bass, from Rosie Moon (whose playing was exemplary throughout the evening).

This was another sound-scape from elsewhere, but in the shape of one from another planet altogether, where Time dilates, is suspended, and stands still. In the harpsichord cadenza¹, the earlier flute part, played by director Ashley Solomon, was evoked, which, in the slow movement (marked Affettuoso), had a disembodied² yet full tone, with Čičić's violin feeling gracious and expressive.

In the third movement, its structure provided by Moon's bass, the ensemble grew and blossomed, embellishing and building on the material. At the other end of the scale, we could hear and take pleasure in the lightness and facility of the harpsichord line.


(3) Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, in G Major, BWV 1048 (est. 1712)

This work, probably the most famous of the set, was a good piece on which to end the first half, the chordal-progressions of the lower instruments pushing us onwards, with an almost terrifying three cellos plus continuo.

As an Adagio through-passage after the opening Allegro, Čičić led Florilegium in a semi-ensemble flourish, and, in the succeeding Allegro, we were to hear a peal of bells, up and down the desks of violins, violas and cellos.


The bass and cellos were tempestuous, with the peals and ripples above them in this lively conclusion to the first part of the programme in Beverley Minster – could this work, inspired by Bach's devotion to the work of Antonio Vivaldi, perhaps have been a vision of a storm at sea³ ?






Programme (second half) :

4. Violin Concerto in A Minor

5. Orchestral Suite No. 2


(4) Violin Concerto in A Minor, BWV 1041 (est. c. 1730)

The forces for this Concerto, itself - or its opening (and closing) movements - likely to be even better known generally than the last piece in the first half, were six plus Florilegium's leader, Bojan Čičić, as soloist.

Listening afresh, in this stripped-down way, there seemed to be audible hints, in the lines of the solo instrument and double-bass, of the chordal sequences from that previous piece. The elegance and ease of Čičić's solo line continued to be very apparent in the Andante, his playing moderated and matched by something of a ground bass, and the long, accented notes of the upper strings.

In the final Allegro assai, one became aware of how elaborate the bass-line was, alongside these further evocations of bells and the subtle upper harmonization. This was complicated playing (e.g. the double-stopping), made to seem straightforward and sure – with the result that one could concentrate on what one heard, not the technique, which was very well received by those in the Minster, with the biggest show of appreciation of the night.


(5) Orchestral Suite No. 2, BWV 1067 (1738 - 1739)

This closing work was played as if it were a Concerto for Flute. However, even if probably written with flautist Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin in mind (as our programme-notes suggested), the material is not there for – or to justify – the flute's standing apart from the band, seeking to carry the weight of the Ouverture and opening Rondeau and Sarabande movements :

An approach to performance that was 'remedied' in the very familiar Bourrées, where the flute is part of the texture, and not aside from it. Perhaps there, however, it was not the right tempo, as flautists are apt to slow tempi to suit their instrument, which can cause the strings (on which it is less straightforward to lengthen notes) to sound as though they drag ?


Moreover, an overall approach to this Suite seemed to be lacking, and it might also have served better as an appetizer, as it did not feel an appropriate choice either to end the first half or the programme as a whole.


Nonetheless, after the necessary restrictions on capacity in May 2021⁴, this was, of course, a very welcome return to the possibility of widely attended concerts in larger venues, and one needs little excuse to indulge in the quality of events offered in this festival, or the July or Christmas festivals in York, the home of The National Centre for Early Music !


End-notes :

¹ Perhaps a little disappointingly rendered, and not sounding as much as it might as if it is free invention ?

² There was also something, in the extreme modernity of its contributions, that made us ready for the chromatic elements in the cadenza.

³ Maybe, thinking theologically, in connection with Matthew 14 : 24 ?

⁴ Then, not having booked early enough to secure tickets except for lunch-time events, and with an additional release for the evening ones only coming at the start of the actual week of the Beverley and East Riding Festival (too late for #UCFF's planning purposes), the sad decision made to forgo attempting to be there.

However, gratefully being in York Minster, during York Early Music Festival, in July to hear Stile Antico, the surprise was that the numbers allowed, even in such a huge space, had been restricted to scarcely more than one hundred (120 seats ?).





Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Sunday, 22 May 2022

The '#PuzzlesFromThe80s' Tweets

The '#PuzzlesFromThe80s' Tweets

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

22 May

The '#PuzzlesFromThe80s' Tweets







Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Friday, 13 May 2022

Bluebell season : When the colours start to fade

Bluebell season : When the colours start to fade

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

13 May

Bluebell season : When the colours start to fade




There are still sporadic bluebells to be seen


Occasionally, they are yet in full flower - and, in some places, can even be seen en masse


They are, however, last flowerings – the dying embers of their lively showing


For another season, the time to be with them in bright profusion has passed


In woodlands, the mantle or torch of colour has, nonetheless, been handed on


These flowers, now in blooms, have their own eerie luminescence


More individual, they seem less dependent on available shade and the direction of light



Nothing is for ever ~ Gösta Kraken


The song 'Candlemas Eve' - on one of Kate Rusby's Christmas albums, Sweet Bells - catches this feeling well





Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)