Christopher Tye and Claude Le Jeune: 16th-century musical radicals, Wigmore Hall, 22 October 2017

I got several e-mails from the Wig slightly changing this concert; at one point swapping an artiste, at another tweaking the programme. At no point undermining my purpose, which was to hear viol music by two Renaissance composers whose viol music I had never heard before.

Here is the Wigmore Hall page on the gig we finally saw.

We really enjoyed our evening.

It was more or less exactly a year ago that we saw and heard Phantasm do a wonderful job of Orlando Gibbons – click here.

In truth, I think Gibbons is the better gig – or at least more to our taste.

The Tye is rather relentlessly somber. But he must  have been a spunky chap. Word on the street is that Queen Elizabeth did not like his playing and sent a verger to tell Tye that he was playing out of tune. Tye sent back the message that it was her ears that were out of tune. I’ll remember that riposte for my baroq-ulele playing and singing.

Still, we preferred the Le Jeune, who was new to both of us as a composer and far more upbeat.

Janie was a little disappointed that the lute was such a bit part for these pieces. We had recently seen Paul O’Dette’s superb solo concert – click here – but of course when the lute was part of an ensemble it tended to have a continuo role in those days.

We always get a warm feeling with Phantasm. Laurence Dreyfus comes across so nicely and explains things without the slightest note of condescension.

Yes we enjoyed very much indeed. If you have never seen Phantasm live, seek them out. If you live in a remote place, I would recommend the Gibbons as a place to start listening,ahead of Tye or Le Jeune,  but for sure do listen to some…

…and if it is the Tye you fancy, you can click the image below and Amazon it:

Biber, Buxtehude, Schmelzer and Kühnel, Arcangelo, Wigmore Hall, 5 May 2017

We like these “Wigmore Late” concerts at 22:00 on a Friday evening. With the flat so close to “The Wig”, we can enjoy a home cooked meal and mosey on down at leisure.

Sometimes too much at leisure – we have on occasions relaxed into the evening so much that we’ve suddenly realised that we need to get a shift on…

…but not this evening.

For those readers who simply want to know what we saw – here is a link to the Wigmore Hall stub on this delicious concert. Those who want to know more, including information on the delicious food, read on.

As I have a freezer drawer full of (now lamented) Big Al’s wonderful pasta sauces from Tavola, we had a pasta supper (Al’s amazing veal and spinach meatballs in tomato sauce, with tagliatelle) before heading off in good time to The Wig.

We recognised most/all of the Arcangelo performers, although I don’t think we have seen Arcangelo as an ensemble before. For sure we had seen Jonathan Manson, the viola da gamba player, before, not least in a lovely 2009 concert I wrote up only a couple of weeks ago.

We had also recently seen and very much noticed the young theorbo player, Thomas Dunford, with Les Arts Florissants, which I wrote up – here.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence – with thanks – http://collection.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects/co5900/theorbo

Yes, I know that the Wigmore Hall stub (and programme) suggests that Thomas Dunford was playing a lute, but believe me, it was a theorbo.

Indeed, having had my very first baroq-ulele lesson with Ian Pittaway on Wednesday, I was studying Dunford’s work like a connoisseur. A mixture of thumb-inside and thumb-outside playing, with some trill and rasgueado-looking stuff thrown in. Not sure he quite anchors his hand comprehensively, but then that would make playing the whole range of strings on a theorbo a lit of a challenge.

I also found myself fascinated by Dunford’s instrument straps; one for the shoulder (as recommended and now work in progress for my baroq-ulele), but also an additional one upon which he sits for extra support.

Mercifully, I didn’t let all of that geeky stuff detract from my enjoyment of the wonderful music.

The leader, Jonathan Cohen, introduced and discussed the pieces/composers masterfully. He isn’t a charismatic showman, but he comes across as very knowledgeable, very pleasant and inclusive of the other performers, which Janie and I liked. At one point, for example, he invited Sophie Gent to explain the techniques she was using to embellish the relatively simple parts that composers wrote down in that earlier baroque period. She explained herself very well.

Ahead of the Kühnel sonata, Jonathan Manson showed us the detailed craftsmanship of his viola da gamba. He explained that August Kühnel spent some time in England to study music around the time that Manson’s viola da gamba was being made, so Kühnel might have actually seen that beautiful instrument being crafted.

The music in this concert was very beautiful. I liked all of it, but found the Schmelzer sonatae especially appealing and moving; so much so that I plan to invest in a decent recording of them – perhaps the one linked here – advice in the next few days would be appreciated.

After the concert, the Wigmore Hall had arranged for some jazz in the bar, as they have done in the past but they had (or have not yet) not promoted that idea yet this season. Unsurprisingly, very few people stuck around, but we did, enjoying some 1950’s style jazz piano over a glass.

Janie and I were pleased to see the Arcangelo performers all supporting that jazz initiative after their gig. It also gave us a chance to congratulate Jonathan Cohen in person.

Arcangelo is a relatively new, young early music group; they are very talented and they deserve to do well. For sure, we’ll be looking out for them again.

The World of Orlando Gibbons, Phantasm, Wigmore Hall, 24 October 2016

This had allegedly been a day off, although I did plenty of work during the day. Still, Janie and I played tennis in the morning and had  a very pleasant late lunch and late afternoon together.

Then to the Wiggy for this concert, booked a long time ago and I had no recollection what it was about.

Ah yes, a rare opportunity to hear consort music by Orlando Gibbons, performed by the esteemed viol ensemble Phantasm.

They were great on the night.

Here’s a link to the Wigmore Hall stub for this concert, so you can see what we heard, as it were. 

All the music was wonderful but, as Laurence Dreyfus quite rightly puts it in his programme notes, it is the six part pieces that really stand out.

Listening to them is like peering into a kaleidoscope…[t]he term ‘syncopation’ simply does not cover it

Syncopation – surely not “The Funky Gibbons”? – no, perhaps not. Very soothing music as it happens.

Dreyfus also mentions in the notes that it is so difficult to keep time for these pieces that even seasoned performers can miss their entry beat…

…and indeed he came a cropper himself on one occasion. Dreyfus took it on the chin and they started O Lord In Thy Wrath again.

Indeed, Laurence Dreyfus seems a rather sweet, self-effacing chap. When he introduced the encore, Pavane in F by John Jenkins, the elderly gentleman next to me said, rather loudly, to his wife…

John Who?

…Laurence Dreyfus smiled sweetly and said, a little louder, directly to the gentleman…

John Jenkins.

…I liked that.

The Gibbons music reminded me a little of the Corelli sonatas I enjoy so much, but of course these pieces were written so much earlier – incredibly sophisticated and rich sounds for their period.

Wonderful musicians all, Phantasm. Of course they spend almost as long tuning their viols as playing; that’s viol music for you.

I’m thinking I should invest in a good recording of these consort pieces. Glenn Gould is said to have listened to little else at times, but then he was as mad as a bag of frogs, so perhaps not a role model for listening choices.

Still, I loved the Gibbons consort sound and Janie dozed and listened appropriately.

Excellent review by Michael Church in The Independent – click here.

Yummy Chinese grub taken away from The Four Seasons on Queensway to round off the evening.

Update: I couldn’t resist downloading Phantasm’s recording of Gibbons Consort music – click here for link – delightful sound on the recording too. Not the same as live, of course, when is it ever, but lovely soothing sound.

Emmanuel Pahud, Trevor Pinnock & Jonathan Manson, Wigmore Hall, 17 January 2009

A very beautiful, flute-based, baroque concert. What more could one ask for at the start of a new year – our first concert of 2009?

All three are excellent musicians and they played beautifully individually and together.

This is what they played:

We went home very happy – I suspect with some Ranoush shawarmas in our hands.