A Month of Music at Lunchtime

Wednesday 27 February | Jessica flute & Alexandra piano

This week saw Form 5 pupils Alexandra piano and Jessica flute give a varied programme of Haydn, Scarlatti, Enesco and Martinu.  Alex started the concert off with the technical and digitally-demanding Haydn and Scarlatti. Both pieces demand fast paced scales and arpeggios and Alex demonstrated maturity for her age with her musical take on these works, showing a large dynamic range and sensitivity to the finer points of the music.

Jessica then took over with some flourishing flute.  Starting with the smoother Enesco, Jess proved fantastic breath control over some lengthy passages with her tone not faltering for a second.  The complicated rhythms in the more arabesque passages didn’t faze her and, like Alex, she demonstrated musical maturity.  The Martinu gave hardly a moment to pause, with relentless passages up and down all parts of the flute with complex metres and rhythms.  The recital was finished with a surprisingly quiet end after all the flourishes which left the audience chuckling.

Alex and Jess should be congratulated on a well-rounded recital and bodes well for their GCSE performances!


Wednesday 6 March | Chamber Choir

This week’s recital of music for Ash Wednesday reflected the start of the penitential season of Lent with a range of suitably poignant music.

The recital began with Bach’s eloquent and expressive cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (Weeping, waling, fretting, fearing). Rupert accompanied the choir on oboe to perform Peter Davis’ arrangement for solo oboe and organ. The sorrowful vocal lines, expressive chromatic suspensions and expressive melismas captured the audience and set a sorrowful mood.

The concert followed with Walton’s setting of Phineas Fletcher’s poem, A Litany (‘Drop, drop, slow tears) which was composed when the composer was a mere fifteen years old. Chamber Choir perfectly captured this deeply expressive and challenging work.

Our Ash Wednesday recital concluded with John Rutter’s O Lord, thou hast searched me out, a moving piece which sets a selection on verses from Psalm 139. Rupert accompanied the choir once more, this time on cor anglais, heightening the expressive and dark tones.


Wednesday 13 March | Beth soprano

Beth performed a beautiful recital which began with Hear my Prayer by Mendelssohn, one of his most popular sacred works. A beautiful work, requiring great stamina and accuracy which Beth executed flawlessly. The audience was captured by her pure and smooth tone which filled the church, and the music which creates sentiments of peace of calmness.

For the performance of Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen by Bach, Beth was joined by Anne Bolt harpsichord, Martin Cropper & Katherine Collison violin, Rebecca Leyton-Smith ‘cello, and Steve Foster trumpet to form a Baroque ensemble. This work is very challenging and virtuosic for both the trumpet and soprano soloist with many complex and fast-paced sections. It was fantastic to receive such a full and rich Baroque sound from Beth and the ensemble, displaying great musical maturity and finesse.


Wednesday 20 March | String Players

This week some younger students took to the stage to bravely perform unaccompanied Bach pieces for string instruments. An unusual undertaking for this family of instruments, Ethan, Lucy and Findlay succeeded in exceeding expectations and gave well-balanced and well-crafted performances.

Ethan ‘cello started with a well-known Prelude from Bach’s first Suite in G major for cello. The piece went without a hitch, with Ethan implying Bach’s complex harmonic progressions with seeming great ease: no easy task for a musician in Form 2. This expert navigation continued with Lucy violin moving the programme onto the violin, playing a darker-toned Allemande from Partita No. 2 in D minor: without a music stand! Lucy seemed at home in the sound world of Bach with an intense focus on the music. She should be congratulated on such a polished performance despite the pressures of performing without music. Findlay ‘cello returned us back to the cello, playing more of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major; now the Sarabande and Gigue. The contrast of these two pieces was only highlighted by Findlay’s musicianship and gave great pause in the Sarabande for the double stops and harmonic tensions. He gave equally to the continual movement of the Gigue, perfectly capturing the dance form.



Wednesday 27 March | Ethel piano 

Ethel brought our series of Music at Lunchtime Spring 2019 to a close with a fantastic piano recital. Ethel performed music by Haydn, Chopin and Khachaturian, captivating the audience with her superb tone and light touch, making it seem as if her fingers were simply gliding over the notes. Ethel began with the Allegro movement from Haydn’s Sonata in F major. The challenge of performing a piece which is familiar to many can be daunting, however Ethel did not falter at the rapid runs and arpeggios which filled the piece, allowing the melody to ring through. 

Next came Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, op. 9, no. 2. It opens with a legato melody, mostly played piano, and contains graceful upwards leaps which become increasingly wide as the line unfolds. The melody is embellished with each repetition, featuring elaborate decorative tones and trills.

To conclude the recital, Ethel performed the impressive Toccata in E flat minor by Khachaturian. Utilising Armenian folk melodies and rhythms, the Toccata has complex sections, executed superbly by Ethel. A powerful end to a fantastic recital and term of lunchtime recitals.

Well done to all out students who have performed this term!


Join us on Wednesday 24 April as Rupert piano & Martin Cropper violin perform Sonata No. 1 in D major, op. 12 no. 1 by Beethoven.

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