Home   What's On   Article

Subscribe Now

An eclectic mix of styles, both ancient and modern, and star names at Chipping Campden Music Festival

THE world-class quality of artistry we’ve come to expect from the Chipping Campden Music Festival continued into its second week this week with a typically eclectic mix of styles, both ancient and modern.

This week audiences were privileged to get a double helping of one of the current glitterati of virtuoso violinists – American-born Elena Urioste – when she gave a performance of Elgar’s violin concerto and also took part in a chamber ensemble playing works that ranged from Beethoven to Arnold Schönberg.

There’s something magical about Ms Urioste. She has immense stage presence and her interpretation on Tuesday evening of the Violin Concerto in B minor Op. 61 by Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934), accompanied by the Chipping Campden Festival Academy Orchestra under the baton of Thomas Hull, radiated warmth and élan.

From the moment of the solo violin entry in the first movement you knew you were in for something special. And Ms Urioste certainly delivered. Written in 1910, this is an unashamedly romantic concerto redolent of a bygone Edwardian Age. Ms Urioste’s command of it – amply aided by Mr Hull and the orchestra – would have made Elgar proud.

The concert opened with the overture The Consecration of the House Op. 124 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and ended in a great flourish with the Symphony No 3 in F major Op. 90 by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). It was the first of three concerts by the orchestra this week – and a very accomplished one at that.

Elena Urioste. Photo: Chris Gloag
Elena Urioste. Photo: Chris Gloag

The following night (Wednesday) Ms Urioste was due on stage again with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective and soprano Francesca Chiejina in works by Beethoven, Alma Mahler, Alexander von Zemlinsky, culminating in Arnold Schönberg’s celebrated Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) Op. 4.

But before this week’s delights those attending the concerts at St James’ Church in the town were treated to performances by some other great musicians of our time, including the world-renowned Takács String Quartet, with pianist Marc-André Hamelin.

The quartet’s concert last Friday began with a spirited account of the String Quartet in B-flat Op. 76 No 4 (Sunrise) by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), followed by a sumptuous reading of the String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937).

After the interval Marc-André Hamelin played a piece from Images Book 1 No. 1Reflets dans l’eau by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) before joining the quartet for a performance of the Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major Op. 81 by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904).

This is a glorious work, full of tunes and vitality and infused with that combination of peasant earthiness and artistic rigour for which both Dvořák and Haydn were famous. Not surprisingly, the quartet and Mr Hamelin provided us with a brilliant rendering of it. And they even did an encore – the third movement of the Piano Quintet in A minor by the black American composer Florence Price (1887-1953).

On Saturday the Aquinas Piano Trio came along to play works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Franz Schubert. The trio – Ruth Rogers, violin, Katherine Jenkinson, cello and Martin Cousin, piano – are already well established as a music group of considerable distinction.

They gave polished performances of the three trios in their programme – climaxing with the superb Piano Trio in B flat major D898 by Schubert (1797-1828).

Tonight (Thursday) the orchestra will be joined by the pianist Steven Osborne for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Tomorrow (Friday) the festival’s president Paul Lewis will be playing Schubert’s last three piano sonatas and the festival will end on Saturday with soprano Sophie Bevan singing songs by Richard Strauss. The concert will conclude with Sibelius’s popular fifth symphony.

Review from previous week:

THE first Chipping Campden Music Festival without the indomitable Charlie Bennett in charge got under way on Monday with a concert by members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

But before that – on Saturday evening – music and words were brought together to round off the previous week’s literature festival in the town and usher in the pageant of music to follow with a performance by the actor Sir Simon Russell Beale and the pianist Lucy Parham.

In a jam-packed Cider Mill Theatre Sir Simon and Ms Parham entertained the audience to a programme called Rêverie, The Life and Loves of Claude Debussy, with Sir Simon doing readings from Debussy’s own writings and Ms Parham playing some of the maestro’s great piano pieces.

Debussy (1862-1918) was a genius with “a wandering eye” for women and his chaotic love life was vividly captured in this portrayal, one of several devised in this format by Ms Parham to illuminate the lives of famous composers.

After the heat of Saturday night, concert goers arrived in the rain of Monday evening to pack St James’ Church for a performance of works by the Baroque composers Henry Purcell, Heinrich von Biber, George Frideric Handel and Georg Phillip Telemann.

Violinists Matthew Truscott (director) and Margaret Faultless, violist John Crockatt, cellist and viola da gamba player Jonathan Manson, trumpeter David Blackadder and harpsichordist Steven Devine played works requiring a variety of ensembles to illustrate the breadth of musical endeavour before the advent of what became known as the Classical era.

On Tuesday evening the baritone Roderick Williams, accompanied by the pianist Roger Vignoles, sang songs by composers ranging from Franz Schubert (1797-1828) to Benjamin Britten (1913-1976).

In a programme entitled Hearing Pictures the two artists performed works that explored Man’s relationship with the natural world in music that was inspired by painting and poetry.

Mr Williams’ rich baritone, and his ability to sing with equal ease in English, German and French entirely from memory, together with Mr Vignoles’ brilliance as an accompanist, made this an evening of which one felt privileged to be part. Mr Williams truly is one of the great singers of the 21st century.

The festival continues every evening and some lunchtimes until Saturday 25th May with a concert by the Chipping Campden Festival Academy Orchestra conducted by Thomas Hull, the event’s artistic director, that includes the soprano Sophie Bevan singing songs by Richard Strauss.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More