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(C) 8 out of 66
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Cameo present an evening with Cole Porter (page 80)
Drams
Performers Cameo: Ann Heavens (Soprano), Hilary Neville (Soprano), Graham Addison (Tenor), David Campbell (Baritone, Ian Macpherson (Piano).
Venue St Mark's Unitarian Church (Venue 125)
Address Castle Terrace
Reviewer Charlie Napier

Cameo group
Cameo
This small group of singers, with their accompanist, specialise in producing an entertainment that combines music and readings from the literature of a particular period. This Evening with Cole Porter gave us 18 of his best known songs interspersed with quotes from some of the best American literature of the 20th century. These quotations were delightfully chosen to fit in with the songs. Two substantial quotations were taken from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Menand Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and shorter ones from the works of the American humourists James Thurber, Ogden Nash and Dorothy Parker. Some of the Nash and Parker one-liners were delicious. There was one English interloper, John Betjeman, but his poem A Subaltern's Love-Song fitted in to the theme of the evening perfectly.

The singers were excellent and the voices were ideally suited to the music. The songs were evenly divided between solos and duets, so that everybody was given a chance to shine. The show started and finished with all four singing, and even included the audience at the end. The presentation was excellent and the merging of the songs with the spoken words was skilfully done. The use of a few props, some costume changes and some simple choreography during some of the musical numbers, managed to create the right atmosphere for the audience to enjoy themselves. I must not forget the excellent support provided by the pianist who was also allowed to show off a little during one or two of the songs.

This was a most enjoyable evening, professionally presented by a group of talented people who obviously enjoy what they do. As they are based in the Edinburgh area, I look forward to being entertained by them in the future.

© Charlie Napier, 17 August 2002. Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Run: August 16-17 at 20.00 (1 hour 45 minutes)
   

¡Canto Vivo! (page 80)

Drams 0
Music Jayme Ovalle: Azulão; Paurillo Barroso: Para Niñar; Valdemar Henrique: Boi-Bumbá; Mudarra: Ysabel, perdiste la tu faxa; Sor: Lagrime mie; Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileras No.5 - Aria; Manuel de Falla: Siete canciones populares Españolas
Performers Claire Debono (soprano) and Simon Thacker (guitar)
Venue Valvona & Crolla (Venue 67)
Address 19 Elm Row
Reviewer Pat Napier

Claire Debono & Simon Thacker

Simon Thacker joked that the ever-popular, tiny theatre at Edinburgh's best-loved delicatessen had provided just the right hot, sultry, intimate atmosphere for this lovely programme of South American and Spanish songs. Constructing a rogramme is a real art and this one was a fascinating little box of rare jewels, old and new.

The young Maltese coloratura soprano, wearing a dramatic red velvet evening dress brought every song to vivid, glowing life. The first three pieces were Brazilian and ranged from the pathos of a lover telling the bluebird what to say to his faithless lover, through a lullaby, to the pastoral idyll with the sting in its tail in the story of the carefree little ox about to die that day. Claire brought these songs alive in her mastery of facial expressions, body language and vocal colouring. In fact, she became all the music she sang.

The duo varied the music in time and in humour. The great Alonso Mudarra was shown as "the Monty Python of 1546" in Simon's words, in the short, off-the-wall Ysabel, perdiste la tua faxe where a passing wit points out that Ysabel's lost girdle is floating in the water below her. There were too many delights to be able to single out more than a few. Sor's Lagrime mie was full of 19th century Bel Canto glory. Manuel de Falla's Siete conciones populares Españolas was rich in musical expression, with No.6, in particular, reminding me of Teresa Berganza while No.7 was a true Cantejondo, all passionate guitar chords and vocal wailing.

Her accompanist, in addition to his sensitive support of the voice, gave us a delightful overview of the music for guitar over historical time and explained its antecendents. In such pieces as Mudarra's 1546 one on a 1410 battle, we heard the Renaissance guitar in all its refined style. His was a equal partnership with the singer; he being equally at home in any period. His last solo came from the first artiste to make a recording: Augustin Barrio called The Cathedral and was a tale in music of his first impressions on seeing it and hearing a Bach Chorale waft out from it. Unforgettable!

The encore was from Turina's Cantares: Obsession- a i e e in true cantejondo style. If you love Spanish and Brazilian music, glorious singing and inspired guitar playing this concert is for you. Don't miss it!
© Pat Napier 10 August 2002 Published on www.edinburghguide.com

Run continues: August 15, 21 at 18:00; August 17 at 15:00; August 23 at 20:00


   

Celebrity organ recitals - Peter Backhouse (page 81)
Drams full glassfull glass
Organist Peter Backhouse, Assistant Organist at St Giles
Music J S Bach: Concerto in A minor BWV 543; Mendelssohn-Bartholdy : Sonata IV in B flat major Op65; Jongen: Chant de Mai; Guilmant: Sonata No 1 in D minor Op 42
Venue St Giles Cathedral (Venue 187)
Address High Street, Royal Mile
Reviewer Charlie Napier

St Giles OrganPeter Backhouse was the very capable performer in this, the last of the 2002 Celebrity Organ Recitals series that celebrated the tenth anniversary of the installation of the Rieger organ in St Giles Cathedral. This organ, with its three manuals and pedals, incorporating 57 stops, six couplers, plus combinations and sequencers and a 37 bell Glocken, is a delight to look at as well as to listen to.

The programme led the listener through the classical organ repertoire from Bach through Mendelssohn to Guilmant, with a little bit of early 20th century impressionism thrown in for light relief in the form of the Jongen work.

Bach's arrangement of a Vivaldi concerto for two violins opened the programme. The three movements showed Bach's skills to good effect. The registration in the second movement brought out the best in the music. It is a pity that the acoustics tended to make the sound of the lively first and second movements a bit muddy. The Mendelssohn followed. Again the acoustics seemed to spoil the quicker and louder parts of the music, but the choice of flute stops on manuals and pedals in the third movement proved most effective..

The Jongen piece that followed was a refreshing impressionistic picture in sound of a quiet May day in the country. All too quickly the tranquillity was disturbed by the crashing opening of the Guilmant. Originally written as a symphony for organ and orchestra, Guilmant later revised it for organ alone. This three movement virtuosic work shows why the organ is known as "The King of Instruments", and was a fitting climax to both the concert and the series.
© Charlie Napier, 7 August 2002 © Photograph: Peter Backhouse
   

Celebrity Organ recitals - John Kitchen (page 81)
Drams
Organist John Kitchen, Old St Paul's Church and University of Edinburgh Organist
Music Mendelssohn: Prelude and Fugue in D minor; E. J. Hopkins: Sonata in A major; Widor: Symphonie No.5
Venue St Mary's Cathedral (Venue 91)
Address Palmerston Place
Reviewer Angus Tully

John Kitchen
John Kitchen
© Delphian Records

To those in the know, John Kitchen is a familiar name. Well-known as a recitalist, he has also an ever-increasing number of recordings to his credit. The only problem with the organ in St Mary's is that it is a "soft" instrument, and as a result is best heard from the choir stalls. However, a large audience appeared, to hear one of Edinburgh finest organs.

It is fair to say that organists choose their programme to suit the instrument and perhaps that can lead to a slightly uninteresting experience for the audience. However, John Kitchen's playing is anything but uninteresting and began with a marvellous rendition of Mendelssohn's Prelude and Fugue in D minor. The piece is very much in the Bachian style and was commanding from the first to the last note.

John Kitchen is soon to be recording a second volume of Victorian Organ Sonatas and the second item on the programme - E. J. Hopkins' Sonata in A major - will be featured on this CD. This delightful piece is in three movements, the first of which is probably the most entertaining. With several moments resembling that of a G&S operetta, a smile was brought to many a face and naturally, JK made the most of this, by "milking it" for all its worth. One wonders though, how many other gems remain undiscovered the deep well of Victorian organ music?

The final item on the programme was Widor's Symphonie No.5 in its entirety. Set in five movements, the first of which has several of Widor's trademarks stamped on it and this allowed us to hear many of the vast array of registrations obtainable from this instrument. Movements 2&3 sounded somewhat laboured and John Kitchen did his level best with them. However, the Symphonie concludes with perhaps the most popular piece of organ music in the repertoire, the infamous Toccata. Despite this being a splendid work in its own merit, the impact of the movement is considerably greater when performed "in context" at the end of the Symphonie. Needless to say that John Kitchen performed played it with style and aplomb.
© Angus Tully. 12 August 2002


   

Celtic mysteries and miracles (page 81) World Premiere

Drams None
Music and readings part of a medieval Office for St Brigid of Kildare with readings from ancient sources
Performers Canty (Cappella Nova women's voices); William Jackson (medieval harps); Gillian MacDougall (reader); Scottish Plainsong Choir, Alan Tavener (Director)
Venue Old St Paul's Church (Venue 45)
Address Jeffrey Street
Reviewer Pat Napier

Once again the beautiful neo-Gothic Old St Paul's Church was the superlative setting for the latest of Cappella Nova's sublime plainsong experiences. It is a rare pleasure to hear such little-known vocal and harp music combined with absorbing and relevant readings, all resulting from wonderfully transparent scholarship. It was also a great delight to hear music designed exclusively for women's voices.

This enthralling celebration of St Brigit of Kildare's life and impact on Christianity was a transcendent experience. It was a mixture of oral history telling the story of her life, readings from sources such as Carmina Gadelica and readings from the Office (in this case, a breviary, a manuscript which includes the chants), which every priest and nun has to say on a daily basis. This whole programme had been put together from two very special sets of manuscript sources: DrAnn Buckley's collation of all the early biographies of the saint and MS 80 the only breviary which "also contains the readings, making it the most complete, extant version." (Dr Ann Buckley © 2002)

Adest dies leticle, the Processional Hymn in praise of St Brigid's life, was first heard from the back of the church, swelled as the singers and reader approached, then diminished as they passed us and took their places, leaving the harpist at the back. From then on, in song and story, her life unfolded before us. We learned that she was the illegitimate daughter of the Lord Dubtach, an Irish chieftain, we learned of her "growing in graceful habits within her father's household", of her turning to Christ, and of her many miracles. But she was also venerated by the Pagans. The hauntingly lovely reading Praises of Brigit from Carmina Gadelica was balanced in the next reading by A Druid foretells of Brigit's greatness. The proof of the central place of the harp in Celtic religious foundations came when The miracle of the harps was recounted.

When the harpist moved to the front to join the others, we could see as well as hear this exquisite instrument play its full and central part in the music. The six responsories were sung by the soloists interweaving their sound with the harp. In fact the whole experience was a glittering gold and brilliantly-coloured silken tapestry of sound. When the Recessional Hymn Christo canamus gloriam rewound the thread to a close as they passed by, no-one wanted to break the enchanted mood.

I can't wait for their forthcoming CD!

© Pat Napier. 12 August 2002

Run: Aug 9-10


   

Ceolbeg: the final fling (page 81)

Drams 0 for the show; several to drown our sorrows at their passing
Musicians The whole superstar gang of them, all of them who could possibly be there. Just for the record: Peter Boond (flute, whistles etc); Colin Matheson (keyboards, guitar etc); Rod Paterson (Guitar, lead vocals); Wendy Stewart (electric harp, concertina, vocals etc); Mike Travis (drums, pecussion etc); Gary West (pipes, whistles vocals etc)
Venue The Queen's Hall (Venue 72)
Address Clerk Street
Reviewer Pat Napier
Ceolbeg © Douglas Gibb

It seemed unbelievable. Here we were, all gathered in the Queen's Hall, together for the very last time. The great folk band Ceolbeg, an institution for the last 25 years or so, was disbanding and this was their very last gig - ever.Where had the time gone? Was it real? No more music together? Nobody could really believe that this was happening. We were sure we'd all wake up tomorrow to find that it was a bad dream.

Things kicked off with a tune Rabbie Burns wrote about the wife of a friend Sic a wife as Willie had, cruel but very funny and vamped up as only the band could do. As if orchestrated, raucous friends from Bathgate arrived late, loud, uninhibited and yelling for Pete to come down among them. Aileen Carr's arrival was effectively overshadowed but not overpowered. She sang the atmospheric There was a brewer lad. Dave White, one of the originals who left then came back for 5 years (1980-85) sang a stunning Twa brithers with Kenny Hadden on flute, followed by Down to the sea. Then, to Wendy Stewart's electric harp accompaniment, he sang the beautiful I will make brooches.

Interspersed with all the well remembered music was the even more well remembered patter, while amidst the coming and going of weel-kent faces there was the music they played. Soon, we lost track of trying to list it all and let the music just wash over us. We were gee'd up by bustling pace of the reels and then calmed down by slow, lilting tunes. And all the time was the thought that this was positively the very last time we'd hear Ceolbeg.

The thread running through the show, was the joke of not remembering the tune names such as We're a' noddin'. Even at this late date in Ceolbeg's life, new tunes were being composed. Wendy Stewart's gorgeous Cairn water, celebrating her local river, is the title of their latest (last?) CD and was very impressionistic. In too rapid succession, we were through Gaberlunzie man, Chow man, The Presence, Farewell tae the haven sung by Patsy Sedden and the song that's been longest in their repertoire.

Suddenly we were at the end. All over bar the thanks. Ceolbeg was no more. Off to the pub for a ceilidh and all were invited. But there's still Greentrax, so maybe there'll be a new CD or two to come?
© Pat Napier. 13 August 2002
   

Cluny Church Organ Recitals (Not in the Fringe brochure)
Drams
Organist Angus Tully, Organist at St Serf's Parish Church
Music Matthew Camidge (1758-1844): Concerto No. 2 in G minor; Hollins: Allegretto and Chorale No. 3 in A minor; Dupré: Three antiphons; Franck: Allegretto and Chorale No. 3 in A minor
Venue Cluny Parish Church
Address Cluny Drive, Morningside
Reviewer Charlie Napier

This is a delightful series of recitals by Edinburgh organists, organised by Cluny Church's organist, Morley Whitehead, who opened the series yesterday. Today's recitalist, a music student at Edinburgh University, stepped in at only 10 days notice, so he is to be congratulated in putting together such an interesting programme at such short notice.

The Hollins and Dupré works, plus the Franck Allegretto, are the type of short pieces all organists need for use during the liturgical services, especially in Catholic and Anglican churches. In varied tempi and styles, Angus used them to show the tonal range available from the organ and the contrasts available between the three manuals. The powerful pedal department was shown to good effect in the first of Dupré's Antiphons.

The climax of the programme was undoubtedly the Franck Chorale. The third of a set of three, this Choral is in three movements. The first uses a lively arpeggio theme, interspersed with a chorale, to form a toccata-like movement. The second is really an aria, a beautiful melody with a soft accompaniment. The third is a return to the themes and style of the first movement, climaxing in a wonderful outpouring of sound. Angus Tully achieved a very good overall effect but the arpeggio parts of the first and third movements could have done with being a bit more crisp and clear. Overall, it was a good performance.

Organists tend to be long-lived but the Camidge family seems to be exceptional, holding organists' positions between 1756 and 1933! Three successive generations were the only organists at York Minster between 1756 and 1859: John I held the position for 47 years, his son Matthew for 43 years and Matthew's son, John II, for 17 years. John II's son, Thomas, deputised for his father during the last 10 years of his life because his father was paralysed. Thomas held other posts until his death in 1912. Finally there was Thomas's son, John III, who was organist at Beverly Minster for 57 years, finishing in 1933, only six years before his death at age 86.
© Charlie Napier. 14 August 2002
August 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 13.10 (1 hour). Free
   

Cluny Church organ recitals (Not in the Fringe brochure)
Drams
Organist Dr Dennis Townhill, Organist Emeritus at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
Music Handel: March from The Occasional Oratorio; Organ Concerto in F Major - The Cuckoo and the Nightingale; J Stanley: Voluntary II in A minor , Voluntary V in D major (Opera sesta); Bach: Pièce d'Orgue BWV 572; Howells: Master Tallis' Testament; Leighton: Paean
Venue Cluny Parish Church
Address Cluny Drive, Morningside
Reviewer Charlie Napier

Cluny Parish Church
© Cluny Parish Church
Dr Townhill has lost very little of his abilities since he retired but, as even he himself admitted, this was not his best performance. However, most organists would have been delighted if they had turned in a performance like this one. It was only familiarity with some of the pieces that allowed this reviewer to identify the minor mistakes. In the unfamiliar pieces it was almost impossible. One stop on the organ was very "hissy" when selected, which was slightly distracting, but that should be fixed in a couple of years when the organ undergoes its major rebuild. The Handel March that opened the programme was an ideal curtain raiser. Dennis then gave a little talk about the music to come, which was most enlightening. The Concerto that followed, arranged for solo organ by Handel himself from one for organ and orchestra, left nobody in any doubt as to why it got its name. As Dennis explained, English organs of the period of Handel and Stanley did not have pedals, so the pieces played today by these composers were for manuals only. The registrations showed off the range of stops available, especially the trumpet in Voluntary V.

The great Bach piece, in the French style, was exciting to listen to, with its intricate finger work in the first section, followed by the majestic second section with its rich, thick harmonies, and finishing off with more rapid finger work. The Howells set of variations of a theme of Tallis was almost a relief after the Bach, being so quiet and peaceful, yet slightly mournful. The sonorous climax was very effective, before it returned to a very quiet final statement of the theme. Dennis completed the programme with his personal tribute to Kenneth Leighton, who died on 24 August 1988, by a fine rendering of the Paean. "To tickle our ears" as he said, he played Howell's Tuba Tune as an encore.

© Charlie Napier, 21 August 2002
Series: August 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 13.10 (1 hour). Free

(C) 8 out of 66
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