Reviews 2015-16

Wed 14th Oct 2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Arcadia String Quartet

For the first concert of the 2015/16 season, we welcomed the Arcadia String Quartet from Romania. The Quartet, formed in 2006 while students, were winners of the 2012 Wigmore Hall String Quartet Competition and the 2014 Osaka Chamber Music Competition. They certainly lived up to their reputation, as the audience of 65 was left breathless by their playing.

The concert started with Haydn's String Quartet Op 1 No 1. This is possibly the first String Quartet ever written and it harked back to the Divertimento style with two Minuet movements. Beethoven's Op 18 No 3 Quartet followed and although published third, was thought to the first one he composed, showing the influence of Haydn. After the interval the Quartet played Bartok's Quartet No 4. Written in 1928 it is modernist in its idiom. Featuring some of Bartok's mysterious glissandi and a fierce pizzicato Scherzo, the Arcadia were very much at home with this work. An encore of a Bagatelle based on a Romanian Folk Song, with rhythmic hand clapping, foot stomping and vocalizing brought an entertaining end to the concert.

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 11th Nov 2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Sean Shibe

KMS enjoyed a concert with a difference on November 11th, when we were entertained by the classical guitarist, Sean Shibe. Scottish born and still in his early twenties, he is already recognised as one of the most exciting talents of his generation and is in high demand for solo performances in Britain, the USA and elsewhere. His performance, just after flying in from New York earlier in the day, left no-one in any doubt why he is a rapidly rising star. Shibe's programme for the recital ranged from the 16th to the 20th century, through pieces by Dowland, Bach, Britten, Rodrigo and Ginastera. His thoughtful commentaries on the pieces he played, delivered with wry humour, were both an entertainment in themselves, and an education in the subtleties of the classical guitar. Throughtout the evening Shibe's virtuosity held his audience spellbound. The pieces he had chosen demanded the highest level of skill and sensitivity of interpretation and he moved from one to the other with total confidence. His delicate touch and perfect control of tempo brought out the shifting moods of the different pieces and in quicker passages his finger work was astonishing. The climax of the recital was the Sonata by Ginastera which brought all his skills to bear in a surging finale. The programme Sean Shibe delivered would challenge any performer in its dynamic complexity - and without doubt challenged the audience too. But the focussed intensity of his performance and his superlative skills made it an evening to remember.

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 2nd Dec. 2015

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Aurea String Quartet

On December 2nd, KMS welcomed the Aurea String Quartet, prize-winning graduates of the Royal Conservatoire. There have been recent personnel changes and their new leader Philip Brett was unavailable. Caroline Pether, first violin of the Zelkova Quartet guested as leader and such was the rapport it sounded as though they had always played together. Due to the personnel changes, there were slight changes to the published programme. They played Haydn's Op 20 No 2 instead of No 3. All of the Op 20 set are in the "Storm and Stress" style, the Adagio of No 2 is especially stormy, and the Finale has a Fugue worthy of Bach. They then played Laszlo Lajtha's Quartet No 7. Lajtha was a contemporary of Bartok and collected Hungarian folksongs with him. His Quartet was much more approachable than Bartok's and in introducing it, Cellist Abby Hayward asked us to look out for a Scottish tune in the Finale. I thought the whole Finale sounded Scottish, so it is certainly a small world when Hungarian folk music has a hint of Scottish folk music. After the interval the Violist Christine Anderson introduced the pieces. Their performance of Britten's Three Divertimenti was intense and full of virtuosity, especially the Burlesque movement. The final piece was also a change from the published programme when they played Schumann's Op 41 No 3 Quartet. This was also played with tremendous intensity, one of the best performances of this work I have heard. This Scottish based Quartet certainly is assured of a bright future. .

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 13th Jan. 2016

Kirkcaldy Music Society

James Gilchrist, Anna Tilbrook

On the cold, wet night of January 13th, an audience of 75 was privileged to hear a performance of Schubert's great work, his song cycle Die Winterreisse, given by the world class tenor James Gilchrist and the brilliant young pianist Anna Tilbrook. The Old Kirk was warm and welcoming with the piano encircled by lamps, with flowers and candles on tables creating an intimate atmosphere for such an intense and personal performance. James Gilchrist's recording with Tilbrook of this piece was record of the month in the 2011 BBC Music Magazine when Michael Tanner described it "as penetrating as almost any performance I have heard" and thus I also found it. Gilchrist introduced the music skilfully and knowledgeably and explained that although the cycle is desperately depressing from start to finish, he thinks it can be helpful to explore these feelings which one normally tries to ignore and we all have to deal with the darker side of things at some time in our lives. Schubert wrote this in the last year of his life and it describes the journey of an embittered young man, slighted in love, departing into the winter night in despair and eventual mental breakdown. Muller's poems are so brilliantly set by Schubert and his writing for piano creates the scene so magically and our two artists gave a totally committed performance which held the audience spellbound for an hour and twenty minutes without break. The contrasting moods and wonderful changes from delicious light cantabile singing to strong, angry, desperate tone were so ably accomplished by Gilchrist, with Tilbrook playing with sensitivity to every word of the text. The gentle rustling of the leaves on the Linden tree, the growling dogs, the lively galloping horse of the postman were so beautifully created but the most brilliantly achieved song for me was Letzte Hoffnung where the leaves and the hopes of the young man were blown about in total confusion. Gilchrist and Tilbrook gave us a masterclass in lieder performance where the voice and piano were entirely committed to the text and music. Gilchrist sang so beautifully but with such conviction that I and many of the audience to whom I spoke, were completely wrung out by the end! The artists, after prolonged applause, joined us all in a glass of wine and happy conversation. This was an evening to remember.

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 17th Feb. 2016

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Isimsiz Piano Trio

On Wednesday February 17th, in the Old Kirk, we welcomed the Isimsiz Piano Trio. With Erdem Misirlioglu, Piano, Pablo Hernan Benédé , Violin and Michael Petrov, Cello, the Trio was formed at the Guildhall School in 2009. In 2013 they were selected for representation by YCAT, and in 2015 won 1st prize in the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition. They started our concert with Schubert's Notturno D897. This sublime music was played with great feeling by the Trio with lovely tones from the string instruments. After this piece, Pablo introduced the next two works. He also told us this was the last of six concerts in their Scottish tour, how much they had enjoyed travelling and playing in Scotland, from Thurso in the north, to the borders and he said they had learned a great deal from the tour. They gave a highly professional performance. Gone were the high jinks seen in their YCAT You Tube clip, though I detected an occasional twinkle in the eye. Beethoven's Trio Op 70 No 2 was played next. There was an instinctive rapport between the musicians, with only occasional glances between them. After the interval the concert finished with Dvorak's Op 65 Trio. The offbeat syncopations of the Furiant of the Scherzo and in the Finale were dealt with effortlessly. In general the youthful energy and enthusiasm of the group shone through. These musicians are assured of a bright future.

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 16th Mar 2016

Kirkcaldy Music Society

Ferio Saxphone Quartet

In the final concert of the year on March 16th, the Ferio Saxophone Quartet provided a triumphant climax to a memorable season of richly varied recitals. The Quartet were so impressed by the Old Kirk's acoustics that they added an impromptu opening to their recital with Bach's Prelude in G Minor, originally composed for the organ, giving the audience a totally new sense of a familiar piece. It set the tone for the evening, which combined fresh approaches to classic works with an invitation to explore unfamiliar but intriguing aspects of the contemporary repertoire. The individual members introduced the various pieces with an engaging informality which contrasted dramatically with the focussed intensity and dynamism of their playing. They followed the Bach with three pieces from Piazzolla's "Histoire du Tango", illustrating the evolution of the Tango form from its raunchy bordello origins to the enriched style which took it into the concert halls. The Quartet moved expertly through the rapid shifts of mood and pace with controlled passion. After these two familiar pieces the quartet took the audience into unexplored territory, with "Alaric 1 and 2" by Gavin Bryars. The combination of instrumental balance and pitch range is similar to the traditional string quartet but the piece continually challenges the performers with extremely difficult and varied technical demands. These were met with total assurance and a clearly intimate mutual understanding, through which the sweetly poignant lyricism of the piece was fully revealed. In "Cadiz", by Albeniz, the Ferio delivered their own very effective rearrangement of an established guitar classic. Glazunov's Saxophone Quartet, Opus 109 now has historic importance in the saxophone repertoire, but Glazunov dedicated each movement to one or more earlier composers, from Dvorak back to Bach, so that the piece as a whole invites the listener to relate the classics of the past to what can be revealed through the characteristic, rich, rounded sounds of the saxophone combination. The players clearly enjoyed the dynamic changes of tempo which brought the piece to its exciting conclusion. "Cuidades", by Guillermo Lago, is the composer's response to cities which have significance for him. "Koln", "Sarajevo", and finally "Addis Ababa" each created a distinctive mood, dramatically portrayed by the Quartet, with an astonishing variety of techniques and sound effects as they passed themes from one to another, reaching an energetic climax. Piazzolla's Fugata rounded off an excellently well conceived, balanced programme which had surprised, stimulated and enthralled its listeners. The Ferio Quartet are committed to awakening regular concert audiences to the scope and potential of what is, as yet, a relatively unfamiliar combination of instruments. On this occasion they succeeded brilliantly.

For more information please look at the Programme page here

Wed 20th April 2016

Kirkcaldy Music Society

AGM and Concert

On Wednesday 20th April, Kirkcaldy Music Society held its AGM Concert in The Old Kirk. After the Minutes of the 2015 meeting were read and approved the Treasurer presented the accounts which showed a surplus of £1,833 mostly due to a free Tunnel Trust concert. The Chairman then reviewed the past season in which we had two String Quartets, Sean Shibe the young Scottish Guitarist, a memorable performance of Schubert’s Wintereisse by James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook, the young Isimsiz Piano Trio, finishing with the exciting Ferio Saxophone Quartet. The Secretary outlined the plans for next season, in which there will be an extra concert in April with the Aurea and Gildas String Quartets who will include the glorious Mendelssohn Octet. A recital by singing group Ensemble followed the meeting. The group was reduced by illness and work commitments to seven, four ladies and three gentlemen. They coped wonderfully with the reduced numbers, giving us a shortened version of their Great American Songbook Programme. With composers including Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Harold Arling, we heard wonderful songs including Only Make Believe, Someone to Watch Over Me, Let’s Fall In Love, Over The Rainbow, and WW2 songs Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and This is the Army Mr Jones. As usual with Ensemble concerts we heard Solos, Duos, Trios and ensemble pieces, giving everyone the chance to shine, and shine they certainly did, bringing our season to a wonderful conclusion. After warm applause, the Chairman thanked the singers for their performance. A party for all followed, with finger food, wine and juice and plenty of time to chat. The progranne for next session is being finalised and will be posted on line in a few weeks. We hope to see you for the first concert on 5th October,