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Sunday, 28 May 2017

In time, yet out of time : The Tallis Scholars, filling the Minster with light and colour (work in progress)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

27 May

This is a response, largely by Tweet, to the programme Masterpieces of the Sixteenth Century, given by The Tallis Scholars under their director Peter Phillips during Beverley Early Music Festival*, in Beverley Minster on Saturday 27 May 2017 at 7.30 p.m. (work in progress)


End-notes :

* Properly called, Beverley and East Riding Music Festival.

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

Saturday, 27 May 2017

In stilo moderno with The Castello Consort (uncorrected proof)

This is a review of The Castello Consort's concert at Beverley Early Music Festival*

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

27 May

This is a review of a lunch-time concert given by The Castello Consort, during Beverley Early Music Festival* and under the title Laudate !, at Toll Gavel United Church, Beverley, on Saturday 27 May 2017 at 1.00 p.m. (uncorrected proof)

We were to hear several pieces by Adam Jarzębski, and the first, his (1) Küstrinella à 3 (soprano e due bastarda) helped serve to make us familiar with the sound-world of The Castello Consort [the link is to recordings, on their web-site], an ensemble that comprises (when they do not incorporate other players / singers) :

* Matthijs van der Moolen ~ sackbut

* Elise van der Wel ~ violin

* Anne-Linde Visser ~ violoncino

* Henriëtte Wirth ~ chamber organ

Programme :

2. Giovanni Paolo Cima (c. 1570–1630) ~ Sonata à 2 (violino e violone) (from Concerti ecclesiastici)

3. Cima ~ Vulnerasti cor meum à 3 (Song of Solomon 4 : 9) (from Concerti ecclesiastici)

4. Francesco Rognoni Taeggio (?? –1626) (after Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525/26–1594)) ~ Pulchra es amica mea (alla bastarda) (Song of Solomon 6 : 4)

5. Dario Castello (c. 1590 – c. 1658) ~ Sonata quinta à 2 (violino e violeta) (from Sonate concertate in stil moderno, Book II)

6. Jarzębski (?? -1648/49) ~ Concerto primo à 2 (soprano e bastarda) (from Canzoni e concerti)

7. Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) ~ Laudate Dominum (Psalm 150) (from Selva morale e spirituale)

8. Jarzębski ~ Cantate Joh. Gabrielis à 2 (soprano e bastarda) (after Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/57–1612)) (from Canzoni e concerti)

9. Cantate Domino (per il trombone alla bastarda) (also after Gabrieli) ~ van der Moolen (1994–)

10. Canzon à 2, ‘La pichi’ (violino e trombone) (from Divine lodi musicali, Book III) ~ Biagio Marini (1594–1663)

11. Variata per il violino (from Sonate, symphonie, canzoni) ~ Marini

12. Sonata sesta à 2 (violino e trombone) (from Sonate concertate in stil moderno, Book I) ~ Castello

13. Canzon à 2, ‘La guaralda’, per il Deo gratias (violino e trombone) ~ P. A. Mariani (active until 1622)


Both an introduction in person by Matthijs van der Moolen at this point**, and his very full programme-notes, told us here about the types and styles of pieces, as well as some of the instruments, such as the violoncino (referred to in the titles of various pieces as a bastarda, as not quite a viol, but not quite a cello) : (2) played by Anne-Linde Visser, we could hear how, with a very similar shape to a (baroque) cello, it had the same resonance, and was also supported between the calves, but had a different tone-colour. In this Sonata, the violin also had the intonation that we could hear in the playing of the sackbut.

With sympathetic organ continuo from Henriëtte Wirth, the opening of (3) the second piece by Cima played with sackbut alone, at the start, and then the other instruments came in, and out – sounding, then falling silent. The tone of the piece was not exactly serious as such (i.e. certainly not tragic), but it was a quietly wistful one, and – particularly as between the instrumentalists – it was clear that the consort is respectful and responsive.

As the programme-notes told us, (4) this item by Taeggio was a diminution piece for violoncino (which took Palestrina as its basis, with his five-part motet performed on the organ) : in some parts (more than others), there was an improvised quality to it, and – hearing from him afterwards – van der Moolen confirmed that much of what he had been playing, on the sackbut, is not ‘written out’. (However, the score gives an outline of the structure – as, one suggested, a ‘chart’ might in jazz.) At the conclusion, there was the impression of the virtuosic, or of something ‘in fantastic style’ (stilo fantastico), since, after all, this is music from the Baroque era.

(5) The first work by Castello initially conveyed rusticity (and this impression was to re-emerge later). Afterwards, van der Moolen said that ‘stilo moderno’ is not what Claudio Monteverdi was referring to (for the voice) by segunda practica, and so it was agreed that, at the very least, such a title made the piece sound new, and so could be / have been ‘a selling-point’.

Although it was an undivided Sonata (not in the later sense of the word), it fell into distinct sections, and in varying configurations : thus, we moved from solo violin, to adding organ continuo, to the violoncino adding in and the violin dropping out. In a section that employed the trio of instruments, we heard the first of several cæsuræ, which introduced a change of tempo. Although the Sonata does not literally end quietly, then it does so thoughtfully.

Before (6) a second composition by Jarzębski, Matthijs van der Moolen apologized for ‘the extra tuning’, which he explained was necessitated by the high temperature on the day. Between Elise van der Wel on violin and him, it was not so much call and response, or hearing echoes, but more like interplay (again, a little as with jazz, and, say, a trumpeter and a saxophonist at the front of a quintet, and swapping phrases ?). This piece was another with a thoughtful close.

Monteverdi’s (7) Laudate dominum was performed by sackbut, violoncino and organ, but with the first as the principal – and highly celebratory – instrument, and van der Moolen standing next to Anne-Linde Visser, better, one guesses, to gauge the sonority of the ensemble. The organ underpins the work, and the violincino gives variety to the rhythmicity. In Visser’s playing, we perceived the effect of a Chaconne, and also, over sections that had longer, held notes, exploratory and vivid passages on the sackbut, and more cæsuræ.

(8) The final composition by Jarzębski that we heard displayed the inter-dependency of the voices (a trio of violino, violoncino, and organ), and held notes and diminutions on violin. Later, there were mimetic responses between the stringed instruments, or apportioned alternations of playing, before they sounded together, polyphonically.

(9) This was the only contemporary composition (by van der Moolen, also modelling Gabrieli), and, although he was necessarily to the fore, he also prominently employed Visser’s very low register on the violoncino. As an experiment, if he had not made us aware, might we have been unaware – from the idiomatic writing – when the work dated to (as it is unclear from the programme what material by Gabrieli he is using as a basis, whether the work dated to the late-sixteenth or early-seventeenth century, or was the work of a later, older composer) ? (Maybe just that, on violin and violoncino, the notes were held for so long, and because the sackbut sounded more out of measure, perhaps even jazzy.)

We learnt that, contrary to the programme, this was not (10) a piece by [Giovanni Battista] Riccio (1570-??), but (as with the next one) by Biagio Marini, and also that it is really an organ piece, accompanied by sackbut and violin. However, as was chatted over with Henriëtte Wirth later*** (amongst other things, from how to sound Gesualdo’s vocal dissonances to the mechanics of the organ), one listens differently when given such information. So it meant that one was aware that the role of sackbut and violin was providing adornments to Wirth’s agile principal performance (but would one otherwise have appreciated the fact ?).

As has now been established (from the Internet), the programme did not make clear [perhaps in more than this case ?] that this item was (11) a movement taken from Marini’s Sonata terza (1626), which perhaps made it more difficult to know – aurally – what one was listening to (please see the remarks above). Likewise, as van der Moolen observed beforehand, he had (unnoticed, and preceding the last piece) opened the front-doors of the chamber-organ (which he was now closing***). As one saw Wirth taking a cue from Elise van der Wel (violin) at the start, this was the first music that seemed familiar (was it from one of [ ] La Serenissima’s programmes – or one by [ ] The Academy of Ancient Music ?). In any case, van der Wel’s articulation was perfect, with especial facility in the writing that was less legato, and well adapted (more so than we) to varying modes of playing and their affects.

(12) The second item by Castello was quite different (and without the violincino), and seemed to offer diverse interpretative choices. Yet, as well as being different, it had very differing sections within the piece (as with that by Claudio Monteverdi), and put one a little bit in mind of [Heinrich Ignaz Franz von] Biber. With (13) the work by Mariani (not, obviously, to be confused with Marini), we were back to our first themes of resemblance to human voices and, where they were previously being heard, the music of the church, about the latter of which van der Moolen was explicit, by pointing out that it was said to be ‘per il deo’. Here, there were also changes of tempo, but they were less significant than those of dynamic and tone.

This was an impressive UK debut by a bright and receptive quartet of players, bringing us a curated choice of music that helped us understand the repertoire that is at the core of their interests, and how Sonate and Concerti developed as instrumental settings within the church, and then outside.

End-notes :

* Properly called, Beverley and East Riding Music Festival.

** Which informed us that Lauda Jerusalem à 3 was being omitted from the programme, as it had been found to be too long for it.

*** In the Minster, during the interval of The Tallis Scholars’ concert that night [of which a Tweet-based account is in progress]. When talking, one thing that arose – as a question from Henriëtte about the nature of what one hears – was the audibility / carry (in the space) of the organ in relation to whether the ensemble ought to have had the doors all the time (as so some there had apparently seemed to believe, when heard from afterwards).

(That said, and obviously not unkindly meant, but loss of higher-frequency hearing tends to be a feature of ageing, and the upper and sometimes delicate sounds of the upper pipes would therefore benefit from the chance to be better heard : it is typical, amongst the members of audiences at early-music events (and, here, evident from Friday night to Monday afternoon), that most are a decade or so older than even many performers (yet alone a generation or more than these newcomers ?).

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

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Seraphin Chamber Orchestra : Whilst you're alive, playing to hear live

This reviews the second concert by Seraphin Chamber Orchestra, under Joy Lisney

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2016 (20 to 27 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

21 May

This is a review of the second concert given by Seraphin Chamber Orchestra, in the chapel of King’s College on Sunday 21 May 2017 at 8.00 p.m., in a programme of works by Vaughan Williams, Mozart and Dvořák, conducted by Joy Lisney

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) ~ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (RVW) as conductor

There, in the first chord (and at which one could smile contentedly), was established the spirit of Vaughan Williams – and the King’s chapel-bell, a regular at concerts, chimed eight o’clock without one’s having a care in the world. With a well-defined, slower tempo than is much heard, Joy Lisney enhanced the luminosity of tremolo-infused beauteous calm that is part of RVW at his best.

At ebb of tide, think not the sea is faithless ;
It will return with love unto the shore.

‘Love’s Ebb and Flow’ ~ Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy

When we heard a crescendo, it was proportionate to the piece, and, by making us wait for moments that we love well - both by pacing and the use of rallentando - Joy respectfully disrupted¹ our merely expecting to experience what we already knew : in this way, as she had done in Seraphin Chamber Orchestra’s initial concert, she and the orchestra somewhat teased us (almost - if one may - as a sexual partner might ?), to give the familiar back to us, but better.

So, when the four principals² began separating from within the texture of the ensemble and coming to the fore, a tear formed, and there was a full emotional response to appreciating the dimension of two orchestras, which are used so differently from how Michael Tippett does in his lovely Concerto for Double String Orchestra (responding, amongst other things, to English madrigals of the seventeenth century as, in that era, RVW is - inter alia - to Corelli (1653-1713)).

We did not stay in this realm, though, since the composer has the effect of vibrancy drop away, and instead presents us with somewhat mysterious and heavy-laden chords and modulations (though the harmonic language may always been implicit when he presents long, sustained notes at the beginning of the work ?). Even so, the glorious main theme is allowed to re-emerge, with the voice of the leader, alongside soft pizzicato, and Joy here brought out a strong feeling of expectancy.

Then, the lightness and luminosity of the opening returned, with its concords, and a forceful quality to the string-sound. Vaughan Williams concludes with the strains of violin obbligato, superbly brought to us by Paula Muldoon (not, as advertised, Rachel Stroud), before another dropping away, and our due applause. (In this performance, one thought, for the first time, of the Epilogue (marked Moderato) of RVW's Symphony No. 6 in E Minor (and of his audio-preserved remark about Sir Adrian Boult's recording : might we, some day soon, be confidently hearing from Joy, with complete symphonic forces, in such a work ?)

Wolfgang Amadee³ Mozart (1756–1791) ~ Divertimento in D Major, K. 136 (1772)

1. Allegro

2. Andante

3. Presto

Delahaye's portrait of Mozart (1772), i.e. aged 16 years old

The latter part of the eighteenth century is another sound-world, but equally one that a conductor and orchestra co-create. However, in the opening Allegro of a fairly well-known work, there were notable differences : Joy had made sure that Mozart's ornamentation did not sound 'throwaway' (which was also a feature when we came to the Andante), and that the underlying bass-line was both not unheard, and did not seem unimportant in relation to the upper parts.

With a degree in music, and as a working composer, Joy had found other emphases to choose to make in this performance. For example, with the principal theme (and its iterations), she placed a little more stress on the first part of its outline, and then, in the second movement, she continued what we had heard with the Tallis Fantasia, shaping the phrasing to be maximally expressive. Thus, under her conductorship, Seraphin Chamber Orchestra (@SeraphinCO) took in the full grace of the Andante’s main theme, as well as that of its harmonization – Joy seemed to have let the natural measure of the score determine the exact tempo.

As so often with Mozart’s work, its suspensive or reflective qualities – which are at the core of the music – are to be found in the innermost moods of these slower movements. Again, the significance of trills, turns and slurs did not go unheeded, and so of giving effect to them somewhat differently : by not treating them simply as artefacts or conventions of the time when the work was written, Joy avoided the sort of playing that can seem to honour the spirit of Mozart’s compositions, but actually be more like superficial sheen - rather than very good reasons to listen to what he has to say.

Thus, in the concluding Presto, one can all too easily take the impression that the balanced nature of the material is either flippantly glib on the composer’s part, or play it as if it is just foursquare. Here, it was clear that it was neither, and, although the orchestra gave us nice, quick bowing, Joy – unlike with those who seem to view the marking Presto, as at an end-of-speed-limit sign, allowing them to indulge themselves – never made us feel rushed.

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) ~ Serenade in E Major, Opus 22 (1875)

1. Moderato

2. Tempo di Valse

3. Scherzo. Vivace

4. Larghetto

5. Finale. Allegro vivace

Dvořák, in 1891 - having received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge

As with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, performed in Seraphin Chamber Orchestra’s first public performance (in mid-February 2017, and in the same venue), the concluding work, by Dvořák, contains movements that would be familiar just in their own right (such as the Tempo di Valse or the Larghetto, which are the second and fourth movements, respectively), whereas – except to someone who really knows the work as a whole – the opening Moderato will not be.

However, we can perceive how Joy, with assurance, is again shaping the musical material, and how, as she conducts, her fellow string-players respond to give her interpretative control (she also gives recitals as a cellist, and had played / directed a Haydn Concerto in the previous concert). In a way that, perhaps, we might associate more with Igor Stravinsky, or Michael Tippett, when Dvořák gives a reprise of the theme, we hear that he has a counter-melody in the second violins (after the premiere of Joy’s own ‘Thread of the Infinite’, Tippett's Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli had been played next, in the preceding weekend’s concert at West Road Concert Hall).

In the Tempo di Valse, in passages marked forte (or louder), Joy is giving us what has otherwise been carefully kept back in curating and punctuating the initial theme – just as, later, Dvořák himself prominently uses a fortissimo cadence as an emphatic way of marking the end of the first part of the movement. What we may have found - if we were not just hearing the music - is that Joy (to make it more effective) was alternating that full richness with employing restraint elsewhere. When Dvořák effected a transition to legato writing, Joy brought out a honeyed tone from the orchestra, with pizzicato on the cellos, and as a further use of clear and precise demarcations within the scope of the movement. After a rallentando, it concluded with a very definite full close.

The third movement (marked Scherzo. Vivace) has a different aspect altogether, which we felt in how Joy caused the ensemble to express intensity, and onward movement. In the slower sections, there was a feeling of suspense, from which we built back to the initial tempo, then, with some lovely pizzicato playing in the lower lines, and the melody held back (with a slight rallentando), the central section of the Serenade moved to an end. The Larghetto is quieter, and we heard tremolo, sensitively utilized by this versatile group of instrumentalists, as well as adeptly long bow-strokes. There was an attractive melody, written for cello, and then running arpeggios (marked to be played as triplets ?), and all of this conducted and played with charm and poise.

Lastly, as if the Finale's initial (and partly repeated) gesture had been ‘a wake-up call’ from Dvořák, his writing for the lower strings - which came across as lively and yet measured - led us to the loudest music that we had been exposed to all evening. More and more, the Allegro vivace resembled a dance-form (was what it had become a Furiant ?), with, at one point, another counter-melody before the fortissimo dynamic returned (fortississimo ?). After a deft piece of pizzicato playing from Christopher Xuereb, on double-bass, and as if Dvořák were still in a playful mood, he set up the expectation that the chords played were a closing cadence : it proved to be a false end, and, a few bars later, the work came to its proper conclusion.

In one undivided performance, another very agreeable, and highly accomplished, evening of music-making from Seraphin Chamber Orchestra (@SeraphinCO) and Joy Lisney (@JoyLisney) ! If those reading this review have not heard Joy or the orchestra before, make it your aim, with another Seraphin concert (to be announced) due in the autumn.

End-notes :

¹ The modern vogue for talking about disruptive technologies (or our reaction against this jargon, which would seem better applied to computer viruses and other malware) may make us assume that all disruption is (as one may see it) bad - or good. Yet it may depend on viewpoint whether subverting the commonplace (e.g. in art, to ask us what we assume or why), or minority shareholders or outside protestors stopping an AGM to make an ethical point. (With different prefixes, we also have corrupt, erupt, interrupt - a lexical root that gives rise to other words with strong meanings...)

² Paula Muldoon and Anita Monserrat (first and second violins, respectively), Roc Fargas i-Castells (viola), and Laura van der Heijden (cello).

³ So (on Radio 3’s The Listening Service) Tom Service (@tomservice) wishes to assert Mozart actually styled himself.

Leopold Mozart, his father, had certainly ensured Wolfgang's exposure to as much as possible of music and culture in Italy, as this map shows (from the Wikipedia® web-page Mozart in Italy) :

Mozart's travels in Italy (December 1769 to May 1771)

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

From a town in western Russia to the north of England... (work in progress)

An accreting assortment of Tweets about Lady Macbeth (2016)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

20 May

An accreting assortment of Tweets about Lady Macbeth (2016) (work in progress)

Those born in Russia (or the former USSR) – or who were not, but who study Russian literature – may be in a different relation to Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District and, because considering it in, its literary and social context – if we are interested in music, we will all know that (so the story goes) Dmitri Shostakovich, looking at an edition of Pravda, found himself there condemned*, and having [to appear] ‘to change his ways’ (again, as the story goes).

One question, amongst many, that the film may pose (not necessarily a bad thing in a film that we should wish to enquire) is whether it commends to us Shostakovich’s opera / libretto, and / or Nikolai Leskov’s original novella (from 1865)…

In modern Russia, the town of Mtsensk lies in Oryol Oblast (a federal subject of Russia)

Film and other references :

* Effi Briest ~ Theodor Fontane

* Lady Chatterley (2006) [adapting** John Thomas and Lady Jane ~ D. H. Lawrence]

* Sunset Song (2015)

* The Tenant of Wildfell Hall ~ Anne Brontë

End-notes :

* Not straightaway, when the work was first performed in Leningrad and Moscow (within days) in January 1934, but around two years later.

** Not 'Based on one of the most scandalous novels of our time', as IMDb asserts (@IMDb), with regard to Lawrence...

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

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Joy Lisney's 'Thread of the Infinite'

Thomas Gould directed Joy Lisney’s ‘Thread of the Infinite’

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

13 May

An account of the world-premiere performance of Joy Lisney’s ‘Thread of the Infinite’, by Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra and directed by Thomas Gould, at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, on Saturday 13 May at 7.30 p.m.

Thomas Gould, associate leader of Britten Sinfonia (at #UCFF, both much blogged about)

An intriguingly plaintive, repeated motif on solo oboe¹ is the genesis of this attractive and engaging short work (running, Joy Lisney said in advance last night, to around ten minutes²) : in attempting to write review-notes for new music, one knows that a piece is attractive and engaging, because one then wishes that one had a better memory for musical detail, and could instead dispense with almost all notes and listen whole-heartedly, but just write something straight off afterwards (which must be a blessing to those who can do it).

And God made him die during the course of a hundred years and then He revived him and said :

‘How long have you been here ?’

‘A day, or part of a day,’ he replied.
The Koran, II 261

[Quoted, by Jorge Luis Borges, in the guise of a motto to head his story The Secret Miracle' ('El milagro secreto’ : the link is to a PDF version in English). All of Borges' stories are short stories, some very much so]

With timpani, and employing tremolo, a small group of strings joins in, before we revert to an iteration of this opening from principal oboe, then strings. From here, and in tonal uncertainty, further material begins to emerge, now with pairs of clarinets, bassoons, flutes and both oboists, to which are added two horns and two trumpets (con sordini). At this point, the full realm of the percussionist is evoked, with snare-drum plus marimba (sans vibrating mechanism, so as more to resemble a xylophone³ ?), and then within the musically and emotionally resonant lower range of the marimba (now, with resonator engaged).

As the development section continues, accented pulses establish themselves between and within the full orchestra, but the contrasts between the sizes of forces being brought into being continue in tandem, and so we drop down to a few woodwind instruments, just before - with a different tone to it - the oboe motif recurs, and Joy uses the effect of flutter-notes from the flautists. Again, the sound of the ensemble swells into a tutti, with a very vigorous texture to it.

Sounding as if his role had moved into that of playing an obbligato instrument⁴, Thomas Gould – who had, when not needing them to play, been directing with his hand (or bow) – passed the directorship to a fellow violinist for the moment. Joy brought viola and marimba (qua xylophone ?) into prominence, with chimes (or struck crotales ?) straight afterwards. Even if this violinistic feature were no conscious nod to Tippett (and to his own to composers of other climes), we could enjoy the gracious, sweet tones of Gould, as this section reached another crescendo.

With, if cinematic images are evoked for a brief while, ones that are of a rainy and darkish scene, we entered what sounded like a moody coda, in which Joy sets woodwind (principally clarinet and flute) against soft pizzicato. Next, a horn is added, and both trumpets, in the sort of accretive layering that we have encountered earlier. Yet the work closed quietly - with Gould on violin, and with principal oboe.

To the musicianship in hearing Joy play (at Kings Place (@KingsPlace), as a duo with her pianist father, James Lisney - as above on 28 February 2017, on a leg of their Cello Song Tour, at West Road (@West RoadCH)), and also direct in her own right [from the cello] (with Seraphin Chamber Orchestra (@SeraphinCO) - please see below), could now be added the musicality of an adept composer, writing a work that transcends its physical length and scale, and making, once more, that connection with cinema : where a strong short film can say far more, in such a timescale, than in the scope of some very average feature-length ones.

At the time of posting, but now reviewed here, what was another forthcoming⁵ date for your diary... :

End-notes :

¹ It resembled and reminded of something in nature, or in music – perhaps it was not birdsong notation à la Messiaen, but did it, say, remind of the theme for one of the characters in Peter and The Wolf (Prokofiev’s Opus 67) ? (It may actually have been, as this review suggests, on a lower-sounding instrument, the cor anglais...)

On checking, there proves to be a tenuous reason to mention Franz Kafka (whose surname is Czech for 'crow'), because the title of the work derives from Victor Hugo in Les Misérables, which is seemingly (because finding a verifiable citation for quotations can be arduous) :

À la jambe de chaque oiseau qui vole est attaché le fil de l'infini

² As with the best of film, where screen-time – if one but desists from looking at how many minutes have elapsed / are to run – shows how illusory our notion can be of duration, and of over what period what we have seen happen took place.

³ During the performance, one could not quite see the instruments being played, at all times, because the percussion was behind the trumpeters and the rostrum on which, behind a group of string-players, they were standing.

⁴ Though Joy, speaking momentarily afterwards, said that this had not been a nod to Sir Michael Tippett, and his Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli (which was the other item in the first half), because she did not know the programme at the time.

⁵ If, without thinking about it, you now say 'upcoming', when you used to say 'forthcoming', you might wonder whether that is such a good thing... ?

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

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Even working for a branch of Mind¹, is it safe for one's colleagues to know much about one's mental-health issues (let alone brushes with suicide) ?

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

11 May

Feeling like a burden : in the world of employment, what might follow from others' difficult feelings 'as a result of telling them about your suicidal feelings' ?

The charity SANE (@CharitySANE) no doubt means well by urging such messages on us - as if talking is just talking, and without risks, and a disclosure can be 'unknown' afterwards by those who hear or read it :

Sadly, knowledge always has the potential to be power, and - whether or not they consciously intend to view you, and what they are now aware of about you, as weakness - colleagues can subtly start treating you as other [the writer talks from the perspective of having had this exact experience in employment by an LMA*] :

As if they are different from you, as if they need to wonder about you, what you are doing and The S Question, when you are unavoidably and / or unexpectedly out of sight...

As if, frankly, you have become a liability, irrespective of your previous years of service (when they did not know) !

Being employed by a charity, not even a mental-health charity*, is any protection against the effects of what they now know - and never [let you] forget !

End-notes :

¹ Usually set up as companies limited by guarantee, regional mental-health charities affiliate to Mind (and become Local Mind Associations, or LMAs), and, although they largely 'run their own show', they are allowed to use the Mind name².

² There is, in fact, no such thing as the national Mind charity per se (@MindCharity), and the name 'Mind' (not an acronym, so it should not be rendered MIND) is just a trading-name : The National Association for Mental Health, which is what Mind is really called, just started using it decades ago, and, when it caught on, never looked back.

Question : Nothing is for ever, not even trademarks, or trading-names, so have we reached the point in time when anyone could start using the name Mind... ?

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

Adventures with Art (work in progress)

This will review Art Themen's New Directions Quintet at Cambridge Modern Jazz

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

11 May

This is a brief (accreting) account of Art Themen's gig at Cambridge Modern Jazz (in Hidden Rooms, Cambridge) with his New Directions Quintet on Thursday 11 May at 8.00 p.m.

Personnel :

* Winston Clifford ~ drums (and voice)
* Steve Fishwick ~ trumpet
* Matt Gorman (deputizing for Gareth Williams) ~ piano
* Arnie Somogyi ~ double-bass
* Art Themen ~ saxes (tenor and alto)

Set-lists :

First set :

1. Why don’t I ~ Sonny Rollins (arr. Somogyi)
2. Ecaroh ~ Horace Silver
3. 26-2 ~ John Coltrane
4. Joe’s Blow ~ Arnie Somogyi
5. Dizzy words ~ Don Weller

Second set :

6. Peri’s scope ~ Bill Evans
7. Midnight voyage ~ Joe C.
8. Ballad medley, beginning with Thelonius Monk’s ‘Ask me now’
9. Notville ~ Horace Silver

Encores :

10. Unnannounced composition ~ Winston Clifford
11. Four in One ~ Thelonius Monk

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

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Tweets about #Hockney at Tate Britain

Tweets about #Hockney at Tate Britain (on 9 May)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

10 May

Tweets about #Hockney at Tate Britain (on 9 May)

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

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Stonk and rock from Gabby Young and her band (work in progress)

This is a brief review of Gabby Young and her new band at Rich Mix, Shoreditch

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

9 May

This is a brief review of Gabby Young and her new band at Rich Mix, Shoreditch, on Tuesday 9 May 2017

The attendant costs of a weekday day-trip to London (even with a Network Card) can quickly mount, but, with the #Hockney show at Tate Britain (@Tate) ending within the month (Monday 29 May), and weekend opportunities to get there (and Tate Modern) thus diminishing, combining seeing sixty years of one British artist’s work with attending an important night in the career of another seemed like the right thing to do. So it was !

Gabby Young had been heard last time at Bristol Harbour Festival (with the former line-up of Gabby Young and Other Animals), and, before that, it had been free tickets at Cheltenham Jazz Festival [won in a competition, plus, agreeably, some complementary bottles of cider from a Festival sponsor (no clue in the video that is linked to)] – so it was about time to stump up and support Gabby’s London come-back by paying for entry to Rich Mix (@RichMixLondon), on Bethnal Green Road (in Shoreditch).

First, however, a few Tweets about the support band of LAUCAN (of London / Lewes)…


Set-list [new songs in italic]

1. Here we go again
2. Pull the wires ~ new
3. You’re like the male version of me
4. Home
5. Mole
6. Neither the beginning, nor the end
7. As yet unidentified (‘When you hold my hand / I feel like I’m saved’) – dedicated to Milly
8. Steal or borrow
9. Time
10. Honey
11. Fear of flying
12. One foot in front of the other
13. Bookoo
14. As yet unidentified (‘The money’s driven you evil’)
15. Segment


Other than lead vocals from Gabby (as well as, occasionally, guitar – and percussion), and some backing vocals from the rest of the band, we principally heard electric bass (the player doubled on guitar), keyboards (and related electronica), drums, and rhythm and electric guitars, but also melodica and accordion. Some fairly good-natured jokes were exchanged about readiness (or otherwise) for the next number in a couple of places, but this was very good and fluent musicianship – and, where the firmer beat and louder tones kicked in, Gabby Young and her band (@gabbyyoung) tore the place up, to great excitement.

Encores :

16. All you need is love ~ Lennon and McCartney arr. Stephen Revere
17. We’re all in this together

A pair of encores began with (16) ‘All you need is love’ – sounding, as Gabby rightly said, as we had never quite heard it before – in Stephen’s calypso reworking of the melody. When, after a stretched-out intro (and even more unlike The Beatles’ original), the band let the throttle go, it was even more lusciously Caribbean, and full, indeed, of love – including, of course, ours for Gabby and her crew :

As a choice for the final closing number of the night, it was excellently twinned with one of her classics, from the days of Gabby Young and Other Animals. Since, earlier on (and without any persuasion), Gabby had got us singing refrains (or even repeated syllables, which marked out a melody-line), we were practised and ready to join her and the band with the signature song (17) 'We’re all in this together'*.

So effortlessly, the gig had built to this moment of celebration, and so we felt extremely pleased that we had all made it out on a Tuesday night to be there, at Rich Mix (in conjunction with The Nest Collective), both with Laucan [link to the band's page on Arsebook], and with Gabby and a band that had shown itself more than capable of great liveliness : as she declared, We’re back !, so, even if [you think that] you know her from previous performances, do go and see this rocked-up incarnation, and share the love !

End-notes :

* A sentiment that she emphatically said that [ed. some self-important person called] Theresa May was not claiming (who is known to some, if they follow @THEAGENTAPSLEY, as #SeamyHater) !

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