Reviews 2014-15

Wed 8th Oct 2014

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Castalian Quartet

For the first concert of its 2014/15 season we welcomed the talented Castalian String Quartet who ensured a very successful start to the series.
The Quartet, formed in 2010, won the Royal Overseas League Competition in 2011, resulting in concerts in London and at the Edinburgh Festival. Their reported "phenomenal impact on audiences" was certainly evident in their performance in St Peter's Church.

Their concert started with Mozart's Quartet K589. This was commissioned by the King of Prussia, a noted amateur cellist, and the cello certainly shone in this performance. This was followed by an exhilarating account of Ravel's Quartet.

After the interval the quartet played Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" Quartet, with its wonderful second movement variations on a theme from his song "Tod und das Madchen". All agreed it was a wonderful start to the KMS season.

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 5th Nov 2014

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Robin Michael, Daniel Tong

Our concert in the modernised Old Kirk provided fireworks in the playing by Robin Michael on cello accompanied by the pianist, Daniel Tong.

The local interest, with many of Robin's family and friends present, helped swell the audience numbers to 81. This was Robin's fourth recital for KMS. He is cellist in the Fidelio Trio, principal cello of the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and guest principal of a number of orchestras. Daniel is a soloist and chamber musician, a member of the London Bridge Ensemble and has performed throughout Europe.

They played the two Brahms' Cello Sonatas, Schumann's Five Pieces in Folk Style and his Adagio and Allegro. Robin introduced the Schumann Five Pieces and the second Brahm's Sonata. Daniel introduced the other two pieces and the knowledge and enthusiasm of both players greatly enhanced the programme notes.
Sustained applause at the end showed the audience's appreciation of the recital.

For more information please look at the Programme page here.

Wed 3rd Dec. 2014

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Athenaeum Winds

For their concert on 3rd December, KMS welcomed the young Wind Quintet, Athenaeum Winds to St Peter's Church. They were awarded the title of Enterprise Music Scotland Residency Artists from 2012 to 2014 and have a strong concert profile around Scotland. The concert started with Poulenc's Novelette. This was followed by a mainstay of the Wind Quintet repertoire, Darius Milhaud's Suite "La Cheminée du Roi René".
As part of their residency the group had a work composed for them by Oliver Searle and they were involved with its development. Oliver was present to introduce the piece as shown in the photograph. He described the work as a musical interpretation of imaginary journeys by unlikely transport to exotic locations. Four movements of his "Pilgrim of Curiosity" were played and the most memorable movement featured percussive effects on the wind instruments. As the Bassoon player said this was certainly out of their comfort zone. When the movement was finished I was amused that the noise made by the players clearing the moisture from their instruments sounded very much like the previous music! The first half closed with a short Scherzo by Eugene Bozza which demonstrated the group's wonderful ensemble playing with scales flying from one instrument to another with immaculate precision.
Oliver and the players were happy to join the audience during the interval for tea/coffee and a chat. I thought the second half music was great fun! It started with a lovely Pastorale by Gabrielle Pierné. Next was a three movement Quintet by Italian composer Guilio Briccialdi. This piece is well worth hearing again. Bizet featured next, with an arrangement by Bill Holcombe of some of the music from Carmen. Great fun again. Another Wind Quintet mainstay, Jaques Ibert's Three Short Pieces was played with the outer movements reversed. I thought this was very effective. The audience of 67 had been encouraged to applaud loudly at the end as Anthenaeum Winds had a special encore up their sleeves. No encouragement was required after their brilliant performance, and an arrangement of themes from Beethoven's 5th with Bossa Nova rhythm was played. This required great virtuosity from all the players and was a highly amusing finish to the concert. For more information please look at the Programme page here.

Wed 21st Jan.2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Steven Osborne, Jean Johnson

For the first concert of 2015 on 21st January in the Old Kirk, KMS were delighted to welcome the Scottish born Pianist Steven Osborne and his wife Jean Johnson who plays the Clarinet. This was Steven's third visit to KMS and since his first he has become world famous, with an un-showy brilliance and profound musical intelligence.
American born Jean Johnson plays with the chamber group Daniel's Beard and has performed throughout the world. With the first few notes of Brahms' Clarinet Sonata Op 120, No 2 sending shivers down my back, I knew we were in for a wonderful evening. Jean had introduced this piece and her playing demonstrated her beautiful tone in both the upper and lower registers of the instrument. She was ably supported by Steven with a piano part that is almost a mini concerto. The piece is in three movements with a theme and variations finale. Steven then introduced Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op 101, emphasising the culture of improvisation which was prevalent in Beethoven's time. His wonderful playing had the audience enthralled.
Jean started the second half with a solo Clarinet Sonatina by the Hungarian born composer Miklos Rozsa. This delightful work is in two movements. Jean's music was spread over two music stands causing her to gradually move from right to left as the music progressed. The concert closed with Brahms' Clarinet Sonata Op 101, No 1. This work is in four movements and like the No 2 was written for the virtuoso Clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld toward the end of Brahms' life. Sustained applause from the audience of 94 brought an encore of the lovely Canzonetta for Clarinet and Piano by Gabrielle Pierné. In the December concert we had heard Pierné's Pastorale from Athenaeum Winds, so we are always learning. The relaxed manner of the performers led to our young page turner getting a "selfie" with them after most of the audience had left. For more information please look at the Programme page here.

Wed 18th Feb.2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Rubens Quartet

The outstanding series of recitals which the Society has been enjoying during the current season continued with an imaginatively conceived programme superbly performed by the Rubens Quartet in the Old Kirk. The quartet, based in Holland but whose members come from the Netherlands, Britain and the USA, are recognised as one of the finest young quartets of their generation and their performance amply justified that reputation. Their programme reflected their declared mission to explore the rich depth and variety of the string quartet repertoire by placing lesser known works alongside the established classics.
The Haydn Quartet in D Major, Op 1 No.3 begins with an extended slow movement in which the players showed an exquisite control of the dynamics, a quality which they sustained through all the changes of pace and mood which colour the piece.
Janacek's Quartet No. 1, inspired by Tolstoy's novel " The Kreutzer Sonata" evokes all the passionate turmoil of the tragic novel with subtle melody interwoven with passages of terrific intensity. The Quartet confronted the extreme technical challenges of Janacek's unique musical language with total assurance in a spellbinding performance.
Beethoven's great Quartet in A Major, Op. 132 completed the evening. The players' technical command and their total engagement with the music opened out the complexities of the piece for an audience by now totally enthralled.
Sarah Kapustin, first violin, engagingly provided illuminating and entertaining comments between the pieces, adding to the audience's enjoyment of a challenging programme, superbly performed, which will live long in the memory.For more information please look at the Programme page here.

Wed 18th Mar 2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Hoot

Helen MacLeod and Emma Wilkins make up the Harp and Flute duo "Hoot" and they made a very welcome return to St Peter's Church for the Music Society's final concert of the 2014/15 season. Harp and flute make a challenging musical pairing, needing exquisite balance and communication by both players if it is to succeed; Helen and Emma individually delivered virtuoso performances, combined with an intimate understanding, producing an astonishing variety of musical moods and effects. The pleasure for the audience was enhanced throughout by the duo's warm, witty and insightful introductions.
The duo are committed to exploring and extending the repertoire of the harp/flute combination and their programme ranged from from the Classical, to 21st century commissions. " Three Fragments" by Lutoslawski, although miniature in scale, illuminated the potential of the combination in its remarkable variety of effects. It was immediately followed by Bach's Sonata in G Minor, then Debussy's " The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" , both very familiar works given fresh colour by their sensitive reworking for the two instruments.
Takemitsu's "Cape Cod" from his trilogy "Toward the Sea," brought us back to the contemporary world of music and also contemporary issues, commissioned as it was for Greenpeace's "Save the Whales" campaign. The duo's performance richly fulfilled the composer's aim to find a sense of spiritual meditation in evoking the music of the sea.
The first half ended with Gareth Farr's "Taheke," with three movements each reflecting a different New Zealand waterfall, full of contrasting passages of surging force alternating with smooth flows or glittering cascades, with sense of seclusion and mystery in the delicate central movement.
The second half was as entertainingly eclectic as the first. The newly commissioned "Cowal Colours" by Edward McGuire continued the sequence of modern pieces inspired by the natural world, but was immediately followed by Massenet's "Meditation" from "Thais," in which, again, the duo gave the audience a fresh sense of one of the most familiar pieces in the repertoire.
John Corigliano's 1983 setting of "Voyage," was inspired by a translation of Baudelaire which the composer described as, "a drugged version of heaven full of sensual imagery." Here, as throughout the recital, delicately poised moments of silence coloured passages of beautiful sound.
In yet another change of mood and tempo, Piazolla's "Night Club 1960" from his "Histoire du Tango" was performed as richly and sensuously as the dance deserves, with the vivid evocation of the night club containing within it the sense of an intimate human situation. Delivered with panache, it was a fitting climax to a recital which combined brilliant musicianship with a superbly conceived programme. "Lochaber No More" an encore of haunting sweetness, concluded this memorable season of outstanding concerts.
However the season is not completely finished!
Our AGM concert on 22nd April in St.Peter's will feature a performance by the Louse Timney Quartet of Brahms clarinet quintet with Frances Maglashan.
The evening will continue with wine and savouries after the concert.
The Society would like to apologise to anyone inconvenienced by the venue error in the press and hopes to welcome you to the next series in the Autumn.

Wed 22nd April 2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

AGM and Concert

On Wednesday April 22nd, Kirkcaldy Music Society held its AGM Concert in St Peter's Church. After the Minutes of the 2014 meeting were read and approved the Treasurer presented the accounts which showed a small surplus of 116.02.
The Chairman then reviewed the past season in which, for the first time, we had a String Quartet concert in the Old Kirk. This was declared a great success. The Secretary outlined the plans for next season, in which the three 2016 concerts will be in the Old Kirk.

A concert by a String Quartet of Louise Timney and Ken Clarke, Violins; Kathy Clarke, Viola and Pauline Woodburn, Cello with Frances McGlashan, Clarinet followed the meeting. The quartet played Mozart's K156 Quartet. The six string quartets, K155-160, were composed by him in late 1772 and early 1773. Because they were composed in Milan while he was working on his Opera, Lucio Silla, they are popularly known as the Milanese Quartets. All six quartets have only three movements. K156 has a Presto, an Adagio and concludes with with a Minuetto. Frances then joined the quartet for a performance of the first and last movements of Brahms' Clarinet Quintet, Op 115. This work, written towards the end of his life for the Clarinettist Richard Muhlfeld, is of towering emotional strength and was played with great sensitivity. Playing the first and last movements highlighted the return of the first movement theme at the end of the finale, leading to a conclusion of almost unbearable poignancy. The quartet then played an arrangement of Monti's Gypsy piece Czardas, with Louise taking the virtuosic solo violin part. Mairi Rolland then accompanied Frances in a performance of Gabrielle Pierne's Canzonetta. We had already heard this lovely piece at the Steven Osborne / Jean Johnson concert and the Athenaeum Winds also played a Pierne piece, so we have heard a lot from a composer unfamiliar to most of us, this season.
After warm applause, the Chairman thanked the players for their wonderful performances. She reminded the audience that the players were all Fife music teachers, commenting that our children were in good hands! After the concert there was a little party for all, with finger food and wine and time to chat. The raffle was drawn and lots of wonderful prizes were won, to conclude the successful season.