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(R) 4 out of 66
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

The Really Terrible Orchestra: a concert of improvement (page 95)
Drams The full five!
Music Jack Trombey: Eye Level (Theme from Van der Valk); J & J Strauss: Pizzicato Polka; Wagner: Lohengrin - Introduction to Act III; Tchaikovsky: Casse-Noisette Ballet Suite; Haydn: Military Symphony [No 11? No.100?]- Minuet; Douglas Mackay: A Scottish Suite (specially composed for the RTO); Eric Coates: The "Dam Busters" march
Performers The Really Terrible Orchestra, Sir Richard Neville-Towle (Conductor)
Venue Canongate Kirk (Venue 60)
Address Canongate, Royal Mile
Reviewer Anon Ymous

The entry in the Fringe Brochure quotes one of our national newspapers as saying that this (presumably last year's performance) was "A terribly good experience". Perhaps "a goodly terrible experience" might have been more apt.

This collection of instrumental players of very varying talents, called the Really Terrible Orchestra (RTO), obviously has a great fan club. The Canongate Kirk was absolutely packed, with people standing in the aisles, for this year's RTO performance. The audience, from the response to the works that they "played", must surely have been husbands, wives, children (of all ages), relations, friends and colleagues of the players; sustained applause, cheers, whistles, "hurrahs", "Bravos" and feet-stamping, were all in evidence. It is reported that the RTO consists of members of the medical and legal professions so I must say that I hope they practice medicine and law a lot better than they practice music.

It was pretty obvious from the banter that was going on between the RTO and members of the audience before the performance started, as well as the whole atmosphere, that this was not to be taken as a serious musical event, at least I hope not. >From remarks made by the conductor during the performance, both to the audience and to the orchestra, this would certainly seem to have been the case.

It is with that idea in mind that I have to say that this performance was an outstanding success. Everyone enjoyed themselves enormously. It seems to be a tradition to have a speech in the middle of the performance. This year the speaker was Mr Gregory Robison from the USA. He gave a short but very witty speech and finished with his definitions of a pessimist and an optimist in connection with the RTO, namely: 'A pessimist is someone who says, "Things can't get any worse", whereas an optimist is someone who says, "Oh yes it can"'. True!

This performance was sub-titled "A Concert of Improvement". The performance lived up (or should it be down) to the name of the orchestra, so if this was an improvement on last year's performance, w-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ll, I can only say I''m glad I wasn't there. If I may make a serious suggestion, the music might actually sound a bit better if it was played a little faster (as well as the performance finishing earlier!).
© Charlie Napier, 31 August 2002. Published on EdinburghGuide.com

The Romance of the Spanish guitar (page 96)
Drams full glassfull glass
Music de Falla: La vida breve - Dance No.1; Albéniz: Two pieces - No1 Córdoba, No.2 Sevilla; Granados: Valses poeticos; Walton: Bagatelles; Agustín Barrios Mangoré: La catedral - 1. Andante religios, 2. Alla Cubana; Tárrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra; Vincent Lindsay-Clark: Salsa dance
Performers The Segovia Trio: Roland Gallery; Vincent Lindsay-Clark; Alexander MacDonald
Venue Nicholson Square Methodist Church (Venue 6)
Address 25 Nicholson Square
Reviewer Pat Napier

Segova Trio
Segovia Trio

At lunchtime, in a sun-filled, serene, white-painted church on a blissfully warm day, a rare event in this atrociously wet summer, there was an air of languid dreaminess set by the warm gentle tones of three guitars. Everyone had slipped into a slower gear. There was time to close one's eyes and become immersed in sensuous Spanish music and just - enjoy - this intimate reflective music. Three guitars playing in unison, in harmony or mimicking an orchestra made this an even richer experience.

The three giants of classical Spanish composers, who wrote sublime music for the guitar, opened the programme. Manuel de Falla, inspired by the Andalucian gypsies, gave us the sexy, sultry gypsy girl dancing for her lover, not the fiery, fast-paced dancer. In contrast, Albéniz painted sound pictures of two Andalucian cities: the stately, ancient university city of Córdoba seen from afar and Sevilla's citizens in festive mood, gathering themselves up and going out meet friends to celebrate. The most Romantic of all Spanish composers, the very gifted pianist Granados, much influenced by Chopin, gave us fifteen minutes of the most poetic explorations of the ways and moods of the waltz. And our guitarists gave us a richly satisfying arrangement, designed to bring out every nuance in the music.

We briefly moved out of Spain to hear two of Walton's 5 Bagatelles composed for Julian Bream. Walton loved these Bagatelles so much that he later composed an orchestral version, the one we heard to great effect. Then it was off to Paraguay for another impressionistic piece, the virtuoso composer Agustín Barrios' Catedral. This vivid sound picture depicted his feelings at seeing the cathedral for the first time; his response to hearing a Bach chorale floating out to him was enshrined in the second of the three sections. Music far removed from his normal exotic entertainer personality, not above dressing up in Indian costume, we were told.

Then came a three minute dip back into Spain for Tárrega's famouse piece. The concert ended with Vincent Lindsay-Clark's composition Salsa dance. This was a very 'now' piece, somewhat Cuban in feel, which neatly complemented the opening dance in its exploitation of the zapadeado, the famous dance rhythms stamped out by the feet, in this case, the musicians tapping out the rhythms on their guitars' wood. A wonderful way to spend a lunch hour!
© Pat Napier. 16 August 2002

Run: August 14-16


Romantic Virtuoso (page 96)
Music Liszt: La Chasse and Funérailles; Chopin: 5 Mazurkas (Op 67 Nos.2 and 4, Op 24 No.4, Op 17 No.4 Op 33 No.4; Scriabine: Étude in C# minor, Nocturne for the left hand, Étude in D# minor; Rachmaninoff: 5 Preludes (Op 32 Nos.5, 8, 10, 12, and Op 23 No.7); Debussy: 5 Preludes (Book 1: La Sérénade Interrompue, Minstrels; Book 2: La Puerto del Vino, Ondine and Feux d'Artifice); de Falla: Cubana and Andaluza; Albeniz: Fête-Dieu à Seville; Ginastera: Suite de Danzas Criollas
Performer Joscelyn Steele
Venue St Mark's Unitarian Church (Venue 125)
Address Castle Terrace
Reviewer Charlie Napier

Joscelyn Steele
Joscelyn Steele
I should explain that the word "romantic" in the title does not refer to "moonlight and roses" but to the period during which the composers lived, namely the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The inclusion of Chopin in this category is debatable, but acceptable. There were a few - er - surprises in store for the rather sparse audience that attended this early evening recital. The first one was that the lady is quite a bit older than her publicity photos suggest (not that that was a drawback, just a surprise). The second was the opening of the first piece. If there was ever a case for someone being charged with the crime of assault and battery on a piano, then this was it. I have never, in all the years I have attended piano recitals, heard a piano being played so loudly. The piano itself and the acoustics of the hall may have had something to do with it, but my ears were ringing very soon after the start. And, it continued for the whole 90 minutes of the recital, with a welcome 5-minute break after the first hour.

A virtuoso this lady certainly is. Her technique is prodigious and she has a beautiful touch when she plays softly, as she can and did. She played the whole programme from memory, which is an enormous feat in itself. This should, and could, have been a beautiful recital but it was spoilt by the constant "hammering". The last surprise was that she did not pause between pieces in a group, which is very disconcerting, nor did she pause at the end of the last piece in a group. She just finished and stood up.

I'm afraid that I didn't stop around to find out the lady's background except that she lives in London. I could have done with a few of the drams I've awarded her during the recital.
© Charlie Napier, 16 August 2002.

Run: August 16 at 13.00 (1 hour) and 17.15 (1 hour 30 minutes)

Rosie Brown and This (Page 96)

Venue C
Address Adam House, Chambers Street
Reviewer Rez Guthrie

It's difficult to try and describe Rosie Brown's vocal style, without it sounding like it's dreadful; which it isn't. Her vocals are mellow and jazzy with a good range, but she does things with it that sound brilliant in a live context, yet might put you right off hearing her just reading them on the page. Basically she both mumbles almost incoherently into the mike throughout and also puts on a lisp whilst singing. But the effect in the context of her songs is more one of soulful late night confidences exchanged than of any kind of put-on coy or wee thing.

The rest of the band comprises a double bass, a semi-acoustic guitar and drums, whose sound is unfortunately a little loud on the high hats for the rest of the mix. Rosie plays an acoustic, apologising to the already converted crowd for using a cappo.

I took my teenage daughter along to this, and she loved the band so much she spent all her paper round wages on the CD. She says it totally relaxes her. And she's got excellent taste in music.

© Rez Guthrie 13th Aug. 2002

Runs until 25th August. 7.45-8.45pm. £8.50/£7.50

(R) 4 out of 66
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