The first lunchtime recital of the summer term was given by Learning Support staff member Oliver Smith on a superbly sunny afternoon. Oliver began the recital with a piece by Giovani Bassano, ‘Divisions on Susanne ung jour’, a very relaxed and soothing piece which was a fantastic way to start the recital. The piece was accompanied by the organ, played by James Speakman, which provided a light chordal accompaniment underneath the lovely flutters and decorations in the expansive melodic line in the recorder part.
The next piece was the unaccompanied Fantasia & Echo by Jacob van Eyck, which explored the recorder’s sonorities through a slow motif, contrasted with and a more improvisatory and decorated section. Oliver had great control over the initial statement and then the echo, which was much faster and more technically difficult. Proceeding this was the first movement of Telemann’s Fantasia in D minor, and Oliver swapped to a Baroque recorder to give a much narrower sound. Oliver had clearly worked hard on the articulation and brilliantly mastered the long, prominent phrases. What stood out the most in this piece was a fascinating technique that bent the pitch of the top notes and gave the impression of a swell. The final piece, Sonata No. 2 in A minor, by George Frederic Handel, continued straight on from the Telemann which was an ingenious and unexpected performance choice by Oliver. The alternation between the slow and fast movements was engaging and the fast movements were played with much energy which portrayed a buoyant feel to the piece in both the harpsichord and recorder part. Oliver developed the exciting and animated melodic lines by reacting to the harpsichord’s crisp and agile playing, thus creating a real sense of engagement between both performers and left everyone that attended with a smile on their face!
It truly was a fantastic recital, filled with poise, musicality and great conviction.