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"...for warmth and intimacy and glorious surroundings, Llanfyllin can scarcely be beaten" - The Allegri Quartet

2009 Concert Programme

Date

Programme

Performers

3 July
7.30pm

Haydn Bicentenary Celebration
Haydn Quartet op. 71 ~ No 2, Haydn Quartet op. 20 ~ No 5, Haydn Quartet op. 54 ~ No 2

Allegri String Quartet

Venue:
St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin

4 July
2.30pm

Family Concert ~ A concert designed especially for children, family parties and school groups. Fun, information and gorgeous music.

Allegri String Quartet

Venue:
Llanfyllin Workhouse

5 July
7.30pm

Mozart: Clarinet Quintet, Tchaikovsky Quartet No 3 in E flat minor

Allegri String Quartet, Timothy Orpen (clarinet)

Venue:
St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin

8 July
7.30pm

Welsh & English Summer Music
Bring a picnic for the interval

Peny-Bont Fawr Male Voice Choir

Venue:
Marquee at Bodfach Hall

10 July
7.30pm

Haydn Quartet op. 20 No 3 in G minor, Taylor: String Quartet ~ No 6 (Welsh premiere with introduction by the composer), Brahms: Quartet in C minor No 1

Allegri String Quartet

Venue:
Bwlch y Cibau church

12 July

Debussy: Danses sacreé et profane, Mendelssohn: Quartet No 1 in E flat major, Faure: Impromptu, Caplet: Conte fantastique

Allegri String Quartet, Ieuan Jones (harp), Mavis Nicholson (narrator)

Venue:
St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin

28 November

Winter Chamber Concert including works by Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart among others

David Watkins (harp), Michael Bochmann (violin), and Jane Leslie Mackenzie (soprano)

Venue:
Welshpool Town Hall, Welshpool

The Festival Association is always looking for new members and in particular there are vacancies on the Committee this year. If you would like to join us, please contact us using our e-mail form.

If you would like to comment on the Festival, on the programmes (past or current) or make suggestions for the future, please contact us using this e-mail form.

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3 July 2008 – The Allegri Quartet

Haydn Bicentenary Celebration

Haydn Quartet op. 71 ~ No 2
Haydn Quartet op. 20 ~ No 5
Haydn Quartet op. 54 ~ No 2

After a torrential downpour in the morning, we did wonder whether we would be arriving for the concert in the rain. But no, the sun shone, the sky cleared, and we had a perfect Festival Evening for this first concert of the 2009 Festival season. This was to be the Allegri's Homage to Haydn in his bicentenary year, so we were assured of golden music to match the weather.

In fact, it was better than that. In the first quartet, composed while Haydn was in London, the Allegri gave an assured, expansive performance, glowing with musical colour. Our first introduction to the new 'cellist, Katherine Jenkinson, this gave us ample opportunity to enjoy the rich blend of tonal colour that this newest edition of the Allegri can produce.

In a further reflection of the day's weather, the stormclouds gathered and thunder rolled just of sight in the second quartet of the evening. This was composed in less happy circumstances, in the early days at Esterhazy, which seems to have been a far from healthy environment, set in the middle of a large swamp and with a "vexatious, penetrating north wind". Again the Allegri matched their colours to the music, with the more erratic mood conveyed by their playing, in a foreshadowing of the Romantic movement that was to come.

In the second half, the sun shone once more, as the quartet played Op 54 No 2, preceded by a fragment of the introduction to the overture to "Tristan and Isolde", so that we knew to listen for the "Tristan Chord". Raffy told us that during a schools performance today they were delighted by the response of a group of four year olds to the start of this Quartet - chuckles of delight greeted the sudden silences at the start. How wonderful to have such a group laughing along with Haydn in his Bicentenary year! The audience tonight was not quite sufficiently uninhibited as to laugh out loud, but one could feel the smiles of the performers echoed around the hall, and the long silence before the applause at the end showed how caught up in the music everyone had become.

The evening was delightfully rounded off with two encores, both of course from Haydn. We heard the Scherzo of Op 20 No 6, and the Adagio of Op 20 No 4.

A glorious start to this year's Festival!

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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4 July 2008 – The Allegri Quartet with Leuen Jones

Family Concert
At the Llanfyllin Workhouse

An innovation this year, the Family Concert took place in a room in the Llanfyllin Workhouse, which is still very much in the throes of its renovation to become an arts centre for the area. The concert was intended especially for children, family parties and school groups, so the more informal space seemed preferable. It was perhaps a little dark, but we were there to listen, after all!

The first half of this afternoon consisted of introductions to the instruments, for the younger members of the audience, some fragments of works by Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn. Ieuen Jones gave us an introduction to the Harp, as his impressive concert harp had drawn considerable attention, and demonstrated its versatility and range. The musicians also played some musical fragments in different styles to demonstrate the different effects on the mood of the music, some of the children conducted a piece, and we all joined in a clapping game where the two halves of the room gradually got further and further out of sync until they came back to unison at the end. It's so pleasing when theory is proved in practice!

In the second half, we heard a mini-recital, beginning with a single movement of Haydn's Op 20 No 3. Performed to a counterpoint of childish commentary, a small voice was heard to say, very clearly, as the last chord died away, "That was great!". Then Ieuen Jones joined the quartet to play a Handel concerto for organ, rearranged for Harp and String Quartet (and very successfully too). Finally we heard a movement of a Tchaikovsky Quartet, which offered very different textures to the Haydn Quartet we heard earlier.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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8 July 2008 – Pen y Bont Fawr Male Voice Choir

English and Welsh Music for a Summer Evening
Bodfach Hall Gardens

After last year's deluge for the Garden concert, many anxious eyes were cast skywards during the day, but in the event, it as a fine, dry, evening. All the better to hear the performance…

The Pen y Bont Fawr Male Voice Choir (with accompanist, compère and soloists) offered a well constructed programme, in English and Welsh. It included Welsh songs, operatic choruses, and even a Negro Spiritual, all illuminated and enhanced by that inimitable sound, In the intervening moments, jests and stories from the compère added yet another dimension to the evening, and kept us very well entertained.

In the second half, Mrs Olwen Jones dedicated her solo "When you come home" to her grand-daughter who is serving as a paramedic in Helmand Province. Mr Tudor Vaughan gave us some penillion, and the choir's performance included some hymns, a Maori song to the Moon, and a rousing Amen.

Oh - and an encore. The audience enjoyed it so much I strongly suspect the choir would not have been permitted to leave without giving an encore!

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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10 July 2008 – The Allegri String Quartet

Bwlch Y Cibau Church

Haydn Quartet op. 20 No 3 in G minor
Taylor: String Quartet ~ No 6 (Welsh premiere with introduction by the composer)
Brahms: Quartet in C minor No 1

A different venue this time, the Church at Bwlch y Cibau. This is smaller than the more familiar St Myllin's at Llanfyllin, producing a still more intimate effect, since it was packed to capacity for this evening's concert.

The Haydn Op 20 No3, glowing and melodic, dating from that period when as Haydn was immured at Esterhazy and, as he put it, "forced to become original", started the concert well.

The second piece, by Matthew Taylor, was introduced by the composer. As he said, sometimes a few landmarks make a new piece easier to follow! Certainly we were glad of that introduction, although the piece contained many familiar patterns and structures - indeed, the composer admitted that his thinking in this piece owed a debt to Haydn. This was a Welsh premiere, a real coup for the Festival! Whether or not the prominent presence of the composer made the performers more or less nervous, they were much too tactful to say, but Matthew Taylor did say that that the Allegris perform the work magnificently, and have been great champions of it.

In the second movement we were once again on familiar territory with Brahms, expansive as always, and rendered by the Quartet with their customary energetic intensity.

Perhaps this concert was more challenging than some we have held at the Festival, but in bracketing Matthew Taylor's work with Haydn and Brahms, we had the opportunity to discern some similarities between the familiar and the unfamiliar - food for the mind, as well as the soul!

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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12 July 2008 – The Allegri String Quartet, St Myllin's Church

Debussy: Danses sacreé et profane
Mendelssohn: Quartet No 1 in E flat major
Faure: Impromptu
Caplet: Conte fantastique

With Ieuan Jones (harp), Mavis Nicholson (narrator)

We were back in St Myllin's Church for the final concert of the 2009 Festival, which has been very well attended throughout the week - a good sign for the future.

The programme consisted primarily of French repertoire and involved local harpist and celebrity Ieuan Jones. We were afforded ample opportunity to hear the difference made to the textures available by the presence of the harp. The liquid, shimmering sound cast its own glamour over the audience. The concert began with the Debussy, a relatively familiar piece from radio performances, but an altogether different experience in live performance. There were some faintly chinoiserie moments which added to the variety of the sound, and the five performers seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

In the Mendelssohn Quartet, we were back in perhaps more familiar territory, with the Quartet intense, dramatic, scampering and lyrical by turns. A vivid and engaging performance!

The second half began with a solo from Ieuan Jones, who introduced it by telling us that he first came the Festival as a child many years ago, to hear harpist Marisa Robles perform with the Allegri of that time - surely an inspiring moment! He also told us this evening's programme included three of the best pieces in the harp repertoire. Certainly the Impromptu gave us a good impression of the variety of sounds that can be produced and the virtuosity necessary to do so.

The mood abruptly changed for the Caplet, in which Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death was narrated by Mavis Nicholson. A horror story, the six performers certainly created a chilling, tumultuous atmosphere as they brought the Festival to a close.

Rachel Wright

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28 November 2009 – Winter Concert

David Watkins (18th Century harp)
Michael Bochman (violin)
Jane Leslie Mackenzie (soprano)

A new venue, and a new venture!

The Festival has not previously presented a concert in the winter months, so this was something of an experiment, and, I think it is fair to say, a successful one. The Welshpool Town Hall Assembly Room was chosen as being a slightly more central venue than the churches of Llanfyllin and Bwlch-y-Cibau, and drinks and mince pies were made available. The room proved to have a pleasant, clean acoustic, perhaps not unlike the sort of chamber in which this music would first have been heard.

Although we had programmes, the musicians introduced the pieces, so that among other things we learnt that a sonata for harp and violin written by Carl Friedrich Abel was written for a Welsh harpist of his acquaintance and that, furthermore, it was only recently rediscovered and was enjoying its' first modern performance. David Watkins' 18th Century single action harp (a much less intimidatingly flamboyant instrument than a modern concert harp) is believed to have belonged to the famous Parisian salon hostess, Mme Recamier. I could not help but contrast the quiet attention of the modern audience with what we have heard of musical soirees of the 17th and 18th Century!

The three performers appeared to be enjoying themselves considerably, which always adds to the fun for the audience. In addition, they presented a balanced programme of pieces, involving solos, duets, and trios. Many of the pieces were familiar, although not necessarily in the arrangements we heard, and after all, each new arrangement reveals new aspects, even of familiar pieces.. In particular, the use of harp and violin to accompany the voice did feel very much like an insight into the world of sheet music and domestic performance of operatic hits that we hear of, but of which we have had little experience since the advent of recorded music. Our loss, I feel.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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