Looking back as usual to the AGM one year ago, we had centenary celebrations then of Rubbra and Verdi, and a reminiscence of Space Odyssey:2001; this year we celebrate the centenaries of Walton and Duruflé and the sesquicentenary of Stanford.
An unusual element in last year’s programme was the inclusion of two operas. The first on a chamber scale in May, Britten’s Turn of the Screw, was conducted by Christopher Fifield in a notably successful performance, unfortunately rather poorly attended. The second in November was Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, only short, but with a large cast and orchestra, which I was delighted to assemble and conduct: it was preceded by the orchestral Jeux d’Enfants and followed by the usual cheerful party. Other larger-scale events were an orchestral concert in June conducted by Edward Kay, in which Evelyn Chadwick astonished everyone with the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, complemented by the Sibelius 1st symphony. An orchestral workshop in October included Elgar’s imperishable cello concerto, nobly performed by Laura Forbes, and complemented by a rare outing for Constant Lambert’s Horoscope ballet suite. Another rarity was revealed by Piero Mattei in the Messa di Gloria by Mascagni, a further demonstration of operatic fervour in a religious context, included in an Italian programme by the club choir and soloists conducted by Lyn Parkyns.
Yet another unusual programme arranged by Hugh Rosenbaum brought together spoken words and music, in more and less familiar works by Saint-Saëns, Samuel Barber and Luciano Berio. A spoken narration, in Poulenc’s L’histoire de Babar le petit éléphant, also found its way into Nicholas Murray’s chamber concert in January in which he appeared as pianist in a Mozart piano quartet alongside the Milhaud flute sonatina, our former president Lennox Berkeley’s horn trio, and another of Hugh Rosenbaum’s wind rarities, by Jacques Chailley. Hugh and Nick in his oboist role were joined by Barbara Wyllie in yet another rarity, by Jean Rivier, in the concert she organised in May, with Copland’s flute and piano Duo, and the venerable ‘duo’ of Parry and Stanford in an unusual violin and piano Partita and a Serenade for nonet respectively. Evelyn Chadwick and I got our bid in to be the first celebrants of the Walton centenary with his violin sonata in January, in a concert organised by Ken Goodare also including pieces by Max Bruch for the unusual ‘Kegelstatt’ combination of clarinet, viola and piano, and a flute rarity by one Adolf Terschak.
Some of the Bruch pieces were repeated in the Gala concert last month along with the Elgar violin sonata, and a much appreciated contribution from University College Chamber Music Club of Britten songs by Elisabeth Irvin; this concert was somewhat truncated by the absence of the planned piano trio from Cambridge – who thought University College was in Oxford… But we all enjoyed the party afterwards! Further rare wind works and flute sonatas appeared in the Summers’ concert in December, by Théodore Gouvy, Warlock (arr Summers), and York Bowen, along with Wolf songs and the Jean Francaix violin sonatina. More mainstream chamber works were not entirely missing – Michael Friess’ concert in April included the Schumann piano quartet and Arensky piano trio, along with Duparc songs and the less familiar Ireland piano sonata from Eric Stevens. The New Members’ concert in September included songs with and without clarinet from Evelyn Bercott, songs from Richard Wood, and the Daley family group in Dvorák’s Bagatelles; the Open concert in October had another unusual flute Romance by Saint-Saëns alongside more familiar Haydn, Mozart, Brahms and Chopin – though even here refracted through Godowsky’s quirky transcription.
You will see there has been no lack of exploration of the unfamiliar this year, alongside some memorable re-visits to established repertoire.
Alan Reddish (Music Committee Chairman)
9th March 2002
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