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

2004 Concert Programme

The Main Events

The 2004 Festival took place from 2nd - 11th July, and we were delighted that the Allegri String Quartet chose to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their foundation with a reunion during the Festival. Thus Rian de Waal, a favourite concert partner of the Allegris for over twenty years, joined us for the first two concerts which were held in Theatr Llwyn at the High School, and no less than six former Allegris arrived during the week, with five of them performing during the concerts of the second weekend.

2nd July

Haydn String Quartet Op 20 No5 in Fminor
Mozart String Quartet K589 in Bflat
Brahms Piano Quintet in Fminor (with Rian de Waal)

Theatr Llyn
Llanfyllin High School

4th July

Haydn String Quartet Op 33 N3 in C (The Bird)
Beethoven String Quartet Op 135 in F
Dvorak Piano Quintet Op 81 in A (with Rian de Waal)

Theatr Llyn
Llanfyllin High School

5th July

Voice and Violin
David Roth and Alexander Massey

The Institute

7th July

Music for Masquerade
The Allegri String Quartet

Llanfyllin High School

9th July

Lunchtime Solo Violin Recital
by James Barton

St. Myllin's Church

9th July

Schostakovitch Octet Op 11 No1
Mozart Quintet K516 in Gminor (with Roger Tapping)
Brahms Sextet in G

St Myllin's Church

10th July

Pub Evening
Allegri Past and Present, interviewed by Mavis Nicholson

The Old New Inn

11th July

Strauss Sextet from "Capriccio"
Mozart Quintet K406 in C minor
Mendelssohn Octet in Eflat

St Myllin's Church

There was an additional concert this season, held in Oswestry at the beginning of the year.

Additional Events

There were several additional events during the Festival. Former second violin David Roth gave a recital on 5th July with tenor Alexander Massey, "Voice and Violin", and the present Allegri performed for "Masquerade" on 7th July. On 9th July at lunchtime, the founding second violin, James Barton gave a solo recital, and on 10th July there was a pub evening and quiz in the Old New Inn, for the Allegri and their public.

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Past events this year

The concert held on Sunday March 14th in conjunction with the Oswestry Concert Series and Chris Symonds proved a considerable success. It formed part of our contribution to the Anniversary celebrations, and covered a repertoire for which the Allegri String Quartet is known, but which has never been a regular part of the traditional Llanfyllin Festival. A member of the Llanfyllin Festival Committee has given her view of the concert:

Oswestry School– March 14, 2004

The programme at Sunday's concert in Oswestry School was an exclusively 20th century one, not usually considered an "easy option", but years of listening to classical music have taught me that it is the live performance that provides the insight and energy to make the less mainstream music comprehensible. Listening to radio or CD performances may consolidate or confirm those insights, but always support the live performance, rather than replacing it.

Nor did the Allegri disappoint. I've heard only three live performances of the Britten Quartet No 3, and each time I've found it easier to follow the structure and the melodic arguments.

As Peter Carter introduced each piece, he provided musical landmarks and images that allowed us to appreciate the musical and personal background of each, and was able to remind us that in some of these pieces the composer was not seeking a truly beautiful sound for its own sake, but a particular emotional or auditory effect. Sometimes recordings lose that "edge", that "bite", which was in fact the composer's aim - perhaps the recording engineer seeks to smooth out what he sees as rough edges, but which are faithful embodiments of the composer's intent.

We have become accustomed to Haydn and Mozart, and find ourselves quite comfortable with the idea that they are "Great Composers", while contempories like Clementi or Dittesdorf, equally popular in their day, are rarely performed and almost forgotten. We cannot know which of the 20th century's composers history will grant the accolade of greatness, but surely these three - Bartok, Britten and Janacek - are candidates for the honour.

For myself, I know that I will need to hear the Bartok Quartet No 2 on several more occasions before I even begin to feel truly comfortable with it, while both the Britten Quartet No3 and the Janacek Quartet No 2 "Intimate Letters" have now become familiar friends - of that particular, slightly abrasive type that never permits one to give other than full attention, that always challenges one to greater effort, and that, after all, provide the energy and excitement that make life interesting.

Rachel Wright

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2 July 2004 – The Allegri Quartet with Rian de Waal

This first weekend of the Festival was to be devoted to the present Allegri, and the music with which we most often associate the Quartet. The concert began with Haydn's String Quartet Op 20 No5 in Fminor and Mozart's String Quartet K589 in Bflat. As part of the "retrospective" programming, the Quartet was joined by Dutch pianist Rian de Waal, who introduced the Brahms Piano Quintet as the first piece he played with the Allegri, twenty years ago. Rian was once a familiar visitor to the Festival, but recent changes have made it impossible to bring a piano into the Church. After much deliberation, the Committee decided to move the first weekend's concerts to Llanfyllin High School, where there is a good piano already in situ, so as to be able to invite Rian to return. Accustomed as we are to the acoustic of St. Myllin's Church, the much drier acoustic in the school's auditorium gave an entirely new perspective and insight to the music.

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4 July 2004 – The Allegri Quartet with Rian de Waal

The second of Rian de Waal's concerts with the Allegri in its present form (Peter Carter and Rafael Todes, violins; Dorothea Vogel, viola; Pal Banda, cello) included another piece that he has often played with the Allegri, the Dvorak Piano Quintet Op 81 in A. Indeed, he enlivened his introduction by recalling a concert in Rhyl early in his association with the Quartet, for which they arrived after a truly dreadful journey with barely time to change, and Bruno Schrecker's wry aside "We will have to be especially talented tonight!".

To return to the 4th July 2004, the concert began with Haydn's "Bird" Quartet Op 33 No.3 in C, performed wih the Allegri's customary verve and panache, and progressed with a splendid rendering of Beethoven's Op 135.

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5 July 2004 – Voice and Violin

In the first of the additional events of this Festival, David Roth, second violin of the Allegri for more than thirty years, was joined by the tenor Alexander Massey in a recital held at The Institute in Llanfyllin. A small but intensely curious audience assembled for this, as the combination is not a familiar one, and the programme was introduced by the performers. It included folk songs arranged by Alexander Massey, Ten Blake Songs by Vaughan Williams, Four Songs Op35 by Holst, a solo violin fantasia by Telemann, Four Hungarian Folk Songs by Matyas Seiber and the Quatre Poemes de Catulle by Milhaud, and culminated in a rousing rendition of O sole mio as an encore. To judge from comments overheard during and after the concert, the audience found the variety of repertoire fascinating and the performances brilliant.

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7 July 2004 – Music for Masquerade

"Masquerade" is a local voluntary organisation which helps children with learning difficulties to express themselves through music and dance. It had been hoped that this would take place outside with the children dancing while the Allegri played, but in the event, the blustery weather dictated that the event be transferred to the school canteen, where space constraints prevented any dancing at all. The children seemed very much to enjoy the occasion, however, sitting spellbound even during a movement of a Bartok Quartet that many adults might have found challenging. In view of the relatively short period available to them, the Allegri chose to play two movements of a Haydn Quartet, one of Bartok, and one Beethoven, all introduced by Peter Carter. Indeed, played in that order, the musical "line of descent" from Beethoven to Bartok suddenly became crystal-clear.

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9 July 2004 – Solo Violin Recital

James Barton was the founding second violinist of the Allegri Quartet, and is extremely unusual in playing "back to front"- that is to say, with the violin in his right hand and the bow in his left. The original Allegri Quartet performed with the two violins facing one another and the violin and cello behind, for exactly this reason. Since he left the Quartet, he has concentrated on solo work, which he told us may be a lonely furrow to plough, but almost (!) removes problems of balance and ensemble, and most certainly reduces disagreements over interpretation!

He chose to play two movements of a Telemann Fantasia (No.9), the Sonata No 1 in Aminor by JS Bach, and the Sonata Op 27 No.3 by Eugene Ysaÿe. The acoustics of St. Myllin's Church are well-suited to the performance of solo violin music, and the audience was also treated to an encore, the Gavotte en Rondo.

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9 July 2004 – The Allegri Quartet with James Barton, David Roth, Keith Lovell, Roger Tapping and Bruno Schrecker

For the second weekend's concerts - the Reunion - we returned to the familiar surroundings of St. Myllin's Church, and might as accurately have billed the performers as The Allegri String Octet! The concert began with the Shostakovitch Octet, unfamiliar to many of the audience, and a pleasant surprise as well. The Mozart Quintet presented long-time Llanfyllin concertgoers with the familiar line-up of some years ago - Peter Carter, David Roth, Roger Tapping and Bruno Shrecker, with the first viola part taken by the current incumbent, Dorothea Vogel. Since Roger Tapping left the Allegri, emigrated to Colorado and joined the Takacs Quartet, we have had no opportunity to see him, and it was fortunate that the Takacs were at the beginning of a European tour so that he was able to drive up from Cheltenham for this one performance. For the Brahms Sextet, the present Allegri were joined by Keith Lovell and Bruno Schrecker - again, familiar faces to the Allegri audience, but not often enough seen since they left the quartet.

The audience this weekend also included Patrick Ireland, founding viola of the Allegri String Quartet, and Piers Burton-Page, who has recently written a celebration of the Quartet, "A Quartet in Five Movements", and many of the wives and family of the past and present members of the Quartet, some visiting Llanfyllin for the first time.

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10 July 2004 – Pub Evening

Allegri, ex-Allegri, their families and members of their audience assembled in the function room of the Old New Inn for an evening of Quiz and Conversation. Peter Carter set a quiz of twenty-six questions which several groups tackled, amid much discussion and puzzlement. The questions varied widely in difficulty, and even Peter's colleagues were not always able to answer them.

After we had been given the answers, Mavis Nicholson, broadcaster and enthusiastic Llanfyllin concertgoer, had been asked to interview the quartet and ex-members, an invitation she admitted had caused her some trepidation, since she was aware that many of the audience would be extremely knowledgeable about the Quartet as well as the music they play. Rather than a formal interview, she therefore decided to ask more general questions which should provoke some discussion and reminiscence - as indeed they did, resulting in an entertaining evening, which afforded the audience an insight into the performer's view of applause, performance, and rehearsal, amongst much else.

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11 July 2004 – The Allegri Quartet with James Barton, David Roth, Keith Lovell and Bruno Schrecker

The atmosphere was electric as the audience assembled for the final concert of the Llanfyllin Festival of 2004, aware that we are unlikely to have such an assembly of Allegris and ex-Allegris again. We were pleased that our Patron, Lord Gowrie, was able to join us for this concert, which began with the Sextet from "Capriccio" by Strauss, for which the present Allegri were joined by Keith Lovell and Bruno Schrecker. For the Mozart, Keith Lovell returned with the present Allegri, and after the interval the "Allegri String Octet" returned to the stage for the Mendelssohn. The audience was quietened only reluctantly - and temporarily - when Bruno Shrecker remained to make an announcement: Peter Carter is intending to retire at the end of this year, after leading the quartet for more than twenty-five years. The standing ovation continued for some time, as the audience used the only means available to them to express their thanks and appreciation for over thirty years of the Festival and fifty years of the Allegri String Quartet.

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