Reviews 2012-13

 3rd Oct 2012

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Arctic Winds

On Wednesday 3rd October, the Society opened its 2012/2013 season with a fine performance by the Arctic Winds.

This quintet was formed in early 2011 and is made up of experienced and highly regarded players. Individually they are frequently seen in top orchestras and ensembles. Each member of the group enthusiastically introduced one of the pieces.

The concert started with 3 Pieces Breve for Wind Quintet by Jacques Ibert and continued with a performance of the John Maxwell Geddes Scottish Folksong Suite. The first half closed with the Holst Wind Quintet Op 14. After the interval there were performances of Ligeti's Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet by the Hungarian Composer Gyorgy Ligeti. Their programme ended with the Nielson Quintet for Wind Op 43. The audience showed their appreciation with hearty applause which produced a very enjoyable short encore.

Douglas Paton


 7th Nov 2012

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Idomeneo String Quartet

On Wednesday 7th November, KMS welcomed The Idomeneo String Quartet. These four young men founded the Quartet in 2009, and they now hold the Chamber Music Fellowship at the Guildhall School. Their reputation as the most exciting young quartet on the music scene was bourne out by their performance in Kirkcaldy.

The concert started with Haydn's Quartet Op 33 No 2, "The Joke". This was played with great humour, especially the trio of second movement with the first violin emphasising the fingering slurs and glissandi. The false endings "Joke" was played to great effect with the players almost putting their instruments down before playing the last few notes, much to the audiences' amusement. This was followed by Mendelssohn's Quartet Op 12, with its well known Canzonetta movement. The movement's closing section was played at a fast pace. The Coda at the end of the last movement, being almost a repetition of the first movement coda, provided a link back to the start of the piece as the music softly died away.

After the interval, the Quartet played Ravel's Quartet. This is one of KMS's favourite 20th Century Quartets, just qualifying having been written in 1903. This was played with great panache by the Idomeneo. The muted cello passages in the second movement were particularly beautiful, and the third movement, Tres Lent, was played with great expression. Sustained applause at the end of the concert showed the audiences' appreciation of this highly accomplished Quartet. The next KMS Concert is on December 5th and will feature the Lothians Duo; Jessica Beeston, Viola and Andrew Johnston, Piano.

Douglas Paton


 5th Dec 2012

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Lothians Duo

On a bitterly cold night on Wednesday 5th December there was a smaller than usual audience to welcome the Lothians Duo, Jessica Beeston, Viola and Andrew Johnston, Piano. Due to a communications breakdown (aren't computers wonderful when they work!), the printed programme differed from what was played. Fortunately the players were aware of this and introduced each piece, keeping the audience on track.

The first piece was Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata. This was written for a 6 string, guitar shaped instrument played with a bow. It is now normally played on the cello, but it suits Jessica's soft-grained Viola voice ideally. This was followed by Schumann's Marchenbilder (Fairy-Tale Pictures). This beautiful piece is well worth getting to know. It mirrors Schumann's bipolar disorder, with its outer movements typical of his depressive states and the inner movements like his manic states.

After the interval, when donations from Diagieo and Asda were raffled, the only piece not on the printed programme was played. This was Vaughan Williams' Romance, for Viola and Piano. This piece was only discovered after his death and is thought to have been written for the Viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis. The final piece was Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata. This three movement work (again, well worth getting to know) was written in 1919 and gave the composer "a brief whiff of fame" and despite completing many other compositions, all of them were long out of print by the time of her death in 1979.

The audience showed their appreciation before braving the cold night outside. The next KMS Concert will feature the Navarra String Quartet playing Haydn and Beethoven on January 16th, 2013.

Douglas Paton


16th Jan 2013

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Navarra String Quartet

Those arriving by car at St Peters Church on Wednesday 16th January had to negotiate a skating rink in the car park, but once safely inside, were warmly entertained by the Navarra String Quartet. They were formed in 2002 at the Royal Northern College of Music under the guidance of the late Dr Christopher Rowland and Alasdair Tait.

They started the concert with Haydn's Quartet Op 33 No 3, "The Bird". Haydn had sold subscriptions for this set by saying "They were written in a new and special way". They certainly lead the way in using humour, lightness and wit in Quartets. This Quartet has acquired its title due to its use of bird-like trillings and twitterings.

The Navarra decided to change the order of the programme by playing the Vasks Quartet last. Mindful that the audience might therefore not return after the interval, the leader Magnus Johnston, spoke about Vasks' Third Quartet before they played the Beethoven "Harp" Quartet Op 74. The title refers to pizzicato arpeggios occurring throughout the piece. The prevailing sadness of the second movement was beautifully interpreted by the Navarra.

After the interval the audience did return to hear Peteris Vasks' Quartet No 3. Magnus had spoken about the advantage of being able to rehearse this Quartet with the composer. (Some of this can be seen in the Quartet's Website). Vask's fascination with the relation between nature and man and the beauty of life is evident in this work. Sustained high pitched trills are reminiscent of birdsong giving an impression of being in a Latvian forest! The piece was warmly received by the audience.

Douglas Paton


20th Feb 2013

Kirkcaldy Music Society

The Gildas String Quartet

On Wednesday 20th February Kirkcaldy Music Society welcomed the Gildas String Quartet. The Quartet was formed in 2010 at the RNCM, and were winners of a Tunnell Trust Award. The Trust pays the fees of the winning young chamber music groups enabling them to play at Music Clubs and this was the fourth of six dates in Scotland for the Gildas.

KMS is grateful for the support of the Trust which enables us to hear ensembles like the Gildas. They were to play Britten's Three Divertimenti, Dvorak's Quartet Op 51 and Brahms' Quartet Op 51 No 2. Christopher Jones led the Quartet with Hugh Blogg, Violin, Kay Stephen, Viola and Anna Menzies on Cello. Anna introduced all the pieces at the start of the concert, highlighting the links between them. Not simply the common Opus Number of the Dvorak and Brahms, but the fact that they knew each other, Brahms being only eight years older. He also championed Dvorak's music in Germany. There were only five years between the publication dates of the two pieces after Brahms' extensive revisions delayed publication, because, as with the writing of his symphonies, he felt he was in the shadow of Beethoven. Dvorak's Quartet makes use of Slavonic dance rhythms, especially the second movement Dumka and the Skoky of the Finale.

As the programme notes had promised the Finale was "tremendous fun " and the Gildas delivered that. Anna had linked the Dvorak to the Britten which is also dance based, the movements being marked March, Waltz and Burlesque. The Quartet gave impressive performances of these pieces and are certainly a name to look out for in the future.

Douglas Paton


 1st Mar 2013

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Richard Michael

As the photograph on the review page suggests, Richard Michael enjoys music making and, as he stated clearly, likes music to make his audience happy. He succeeded! Brought up in the North East in a family of musicians who played by ear, Richard became a successful musician then learned to read music! His formal musical education led to a career as teacher, lecturer, then Professor of Jazz at St Andrews University.

His very full presentation was confined to the piano although he is also a highly accomplished organist. Richard features in Radio and TV programmes, delivers tutorials and masterclasses including at the Edinburgh Festival, but was happy to play to an audience in the town where he has lived for many years and raised a family of musicians.

Richard took us through his career with many anecdotes, and featured the style of his favourite composers and musicians. His own prowess as a composer was illustrated by a lovely movement from his piano concerto. A very versatile performer, Richard dislikes rigid classification of music and his technique blends classical, jazz and folk music with apparent but very deceptive ease. Richard, having spent many years in teaching stressed that an essential part of success in music is much practice. The rapport with his audience was obvious throughout with laughter and applause in equal measure. Our Chairperson, Mairi Rolland, expressed our warm appreciation.

Douglas Paton


13th Mar 2013

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Aisling Agnew and Matthew McAllister

On Wednesday 13th March, the Duo of Aisling Agnew (Flute) and Matthew McAllister (Guitar) were welcomed to St Peter's Church for the last concert of the Season.

Aisling was born and raised in Belfast and regularly performs in the UK, Ireland and Europe. Matthew was raised in the East Neuk and studied with Allan Neave. He is regarded as one of most talented Classical Guitarists in Europe. The Duo met while studying at the RSAMD, their joint passion for chamber music bringing them together.

For our concert they played a wide range of musical styles from Scottish Lute Music including a piece by Lady Margaret Wemyss, through Italian Baroque and Classical Music, to modern Scottish and Brazilian music. Matthew introduced all the Duo pieces and his solo items and Aisling introduced her solo pieces. The introductions were made in a relaxed, informal manner, which enhanced the enjoyment of the music.

The warmth of the church and its acoustics were complimented during the introductions. The first half closed with a virtuosic performance of a Carmen Fantasie by Francois Borne. The second half finished in a rousing manner with a performance of three movements of Astor Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango; Bordel 1900, Oblivion and Libor Tango. This concert gave us one of our biggest audiences of the season, with many new faces. We hope to see them back at future concerts.

Douglas Paton


17th Apr 2013

Kirkcaldy Music Society

AGM and Aberdour Flutes

On Wednesday 17th April, KMS held its AGM Concert. The evening started with the Treasurer reporting the accounts in reasonable health especially after the Richard Michael fundraiser. The Chairman reviewed the past season and the Secretary outlined the plans for next season. A concert by Aberdour Flutes followed.

This group has been in existence for 15 years and they brought five of their players; Craig, Michelle, Barbara, Sarah and Moira. They are an amateur group but they sounded very professional, with many of their arrangements created by Moira Coates. She does try to share the "tricky bits" among the players, making listening and watching very interesting.

They started with the very familiar Prelude from Grieg's Holberg Suite. This was followed by an Allegro from a Wind Quintet by Danzi. They then played a Debussy Sarabande from his Suite "Pour le Piano" and a Pastorale from Rheinberger's Organ Sonata No. 12. On more familiar ground, the whole of Marcello's Oboe Sonata was followed by two pieces by Piazzolla; Chiquilin de Bachin and Milonga sin Palabras, both full of tango rhythms and passion.

After the first movement of Holst's 2nd Suite for Military Band, Aberdour Flutes played the first two movements of Mozart's Horn Quintet K407 in reverse order, the Andante first, then the Allegro. After sustained applause the group gave us an encore of Gershwin's Summertime, beautifully arranged by Moira. Their performance was warmly praised by the Chairman.

Douglas Paton