Events Reviews

PAW Summer Festival Launched in Style

What has become a PAW Summer Festival tradition, the Gabrieli Players and Soloists start to the Festival was a resounding success. On this occasion it was a Bach celebration, and after the Sinfonia BMV 1045, director Paul McCreesh introduced the first work, the Missa Brevis in A major, BMV 234. The Kyrie and first section of the Gloria were competently delivered by the full ensemble but for me it was the Domine Deus with bass Malachy Frame where it came alive, with its simple accompaniment of two cellos and violin. Soprano Mary Bevan’s Qui Tollis was even more beautiful, again with sparse backing and with the ‘gossamer-like harmonies’ which Paul told us in his introduction is a feature of this work. Alto Tim Mead then upped the tempo with the Quoniam aria before the rousing fugue ended the piece.

The second half started with the lively Sinfonia BMV 29 in which the leader Catherine Martin played a major part, and deserved the solo bow she took at the end.

The cantata-style Ascension Oratoria BWV 11 followed, a work which Paul said was a Freshers Week set piece from his university days, but he had to wait 40 years to conduct it! It is largely narrative or recitative in nature, delivered by tenor Thomas Walker and the other soloists, but they came together for the ‘chorus’. Paul explained that Bach would have used four soloists rather than a chorus which can be the accepted form now. The arias from the alto and the soprano were delightful, the latter with accompaniment of flute and strings. The piece ended with a full throated ensemble of musicians and soloists before an encore of Jesu bleibet meine Freude completed a wonderful and educational evening.

Rex Bale – 28th May 2022


Chamber Music Series Reviews:

Mozart magic at Langton Matravers in the Village Hall on Saturday 19th February.

Purbeck Arts Week Festival Friends were treated not only to two wonderful piano and violin sonatas but also gained a substantial insight into Mozart the boy and the man by Miranda Fulleylove who said she only recently realised how privileged she was to do part of her training in Salsburg where Mozart was born, grew up and composed.

This concert was held in part to celebrate the wonderful gift from Miranda of a piano to the hall, moved from her home in London and played by her international pianist friend Maggie Cole.  Maggie has played in many ensembles including the London Sinfonietta and with her harpsichord background played this instrument in the music accompaniment of ‘Bach and Sons’, a play performed last June from the Bridge Theatre, London and starring Simon Russel Beale.

Both violin sonatas were written in Vienna in 1784 and 1785 and both had an operatic and dramatic feel about them, since as Miranda said echos of Figaro and the Jupiter symphony appear at times.  The first, in B-flat major K454, was unusually in that it was written for a female violinist, Regina Strinasacchi, who was an orphaned child from Mantua. It started rather solemnly but soon the soaring melody from the violin appeared interspersed with some march-like sections. Both instruments had equal emphasis in the second movement and there were some very graceful sections developing later I thought. The third movement was fast and infectious with brief pauses where we wondered where the music was going to go.

The second sonata, in E-flat major K48, had a lively first movement which is particular demanding for the pianist, a common feature of Mozart’s compositions. This led into a beautiful adagio which started as a dialogue between violin and piano and concluded with almost a love duet which would warrant having words added.  The final movement had a hunting theme Miranda thought.  Certainly it started as a canter, and taking the analogy further, there were some skirmishes with the prey later though the ending was less dramatic than I expected.

There was a cabaret atmosphere in the Hall with Festival Friends seated around candlelit tables.  The evening concluded with drinks and delicious canapes.”

Rex Bale – 20th February 2022


Chamber Music at Creech Grange

Creech Grange was the lovely venue for the second of the PAW concerts this year and Norman Hayward was heartily thanked for his hospitality in accommodating the large audience in his house.

Given by Miranda Fulleylove (violin) and Steve Smith (guitar) this concert was particularly significant since we believe this was the first time classical guitar has featured in PAW Festival concerts.  Steve demonstrated the mandolin as well, and their concert opened with the aria ‘Deh vieni alla finestra’ from Don Giovanni, by Mozart, arranged for violin and mandolin.

Bela Bartok’s  ‘Six Romanian Folk Dances’ although originally written for piano has been performed in many orchestral and chamber ensembles, and was well suited for a violin and guitar treatment.  Although based on eastern European folk melodies, Arabic harmonies are a feature of this piece. The familiar melody in the first movement was followed by a short ‘Dance on the Spot’. Then came the third movement where the flowing Arabic melody was played near the bridge by Miranda. The final fast and furious dance movement had strummed guitar accompanying Miranda’s fast delivery.

‘Fifty Jars o’ Jam’ which followed was a fine composition by Steve written for his wife’s fiftieth birthday in an adapted arrangement to include Miranda’s violin. He told us the amusing story of how this piece came about.  We then enjoyed Jacques Ibert’s ‘Entracte’ after Miranda gave us some background on this remarkable versatile composer. The piece starts with the violin playing the dominant role before the guitar takes over with almost a flamenco style I thought.

After the interval during which we replenished our drinks, Steve played his arrangement of ‘With a little help from my Friends’ by the Beatles. Someone mentioned to me in the interval about the shortage of guitar repertoire, and I said that guitarists were turning to arrangements of songs including some by the Beatles, and here was an example on cue !

Mauro Giuliana’s ‘Grand Duo for violin (or flute) and guitar’ ended the concert. Steve explained that the triumvirate of Giuliani, Sor and Aguado popularised the classical guitar in the early nineteenth century. It was composed in Vienna where Giuliani lived and worked for a while and was acquainted with notable composers such as Beethoven and Rossini.

The first movement had equal contributions from both players whilst the second movement was like a conversation with occasional pauses to take a breath –  but with the violin having the most to say !  The third movement carried on where the second left off and had a rocking accompaniment from the guitar with occasional flourishes.

Finally, after a wonderful evening of music making, the audience indulged in sampling the wonderful canapes on offer before going off under the clear night sky with the full golden moon on display.

Rex Bale – March 2022


Beethoven at Smedmore House

Early April saw the final recital in our series of chamber music in Purbeck Houses. Thanks to the kind hospitality of Dr Philip Mansel, we were again able to visit and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and setting of Smedmore House for an inspirational performance of Beethoven’s string quartet opus 132 in A minor composed in 1825.

Miranda Fulleylove (violin) was joined by Alice Evans (violin), Clara Biss (viola) and Sebastian Comberti (cello). She introduced the work and how it related to Beethoven’s illnesses and recovery. The beautiful 3rd movement adagio (perhaps one of the greatest string quartet movements according to Miranda) is indeed headed “Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode” – the latter being a seven note scale.

The slow introduction of the opening movement (Assai sostenuto, Allegro) reflects a similar theme used in opus 131 and the Gross Fugue and sets the tone for a movement in the minor key with a non-conventional layout. The second movement (Allegro ma non tanto) is a delightful minuet with a central musette that sounds like it is being accompanied by a bagpipe. We then heard the hauntingly beautiful Andante before a short march (Alla marcia, assai vivace) leads us into the final Allegro appassionato with its melodic cross currents and passionate dissonances.

As at all our recitals, we were much indebted to Peter Golob for some fabulous wine from his excellent cellar and to Karla Cherry for her quality canapés. We look forward to our next enjoyable recital for our Festival Friends at Encombe House as part of the main PAW Festival. Thank you again to all our wonderful Festival Friends for their generous and enthusiastic support.

RAB  – April 2022