Shrewsbury School

Last week's concert by our Music Scholars

Thursday 29 November 2012

The highlights from a 'thoroughly enjoyable evening' are reviewed by Martin Knox.

Perhaps it was the wet weather; perhaps it was the rather dry-sounding title; perhaps there was too much else on. Whatever the reason, the attendance in the Maidment last Friday evening was as meagre as the fare on offer was not. Abundant in quantity, rich in quality, there was so much for those present to enjoy that this review must of necessity be selective. Apologies to those not mentioned by name; they share in the collective congratulations.

The opening number was a quintet for wind and piano by Rimsky-Korsakov, a composer not usually associated with chamber music.  The group was given a fiery lead by Joshua Wong at the keyboard and the piece was rounded off in style, the final flourish indicative of the close understanding between the players.

One item, a Fantasiestück by Schumann, appeared twice, but on very different instruments.  Cellist Kevin Jim proved equal to the technical demands of the work, as did the versatile Henry Kennedy in a version for clarinet.  One can see why he has auditioned successfully for the CBSO Youth Orchestra.

Another who has made it into ensembles beyond school is virtuoso trumpeter Henry Thomas, who thrives on the kind of challenges presented by The Debutante, by Henry Clark. The title is inexplicable, for it is certainly not music for beginners. The performance was dazzling.

Having, with permission, missed his slot in the first half to attend a lecture, Ed Carroll led off after the interval with a sublime example of how to communicate in song. In “The Erie Canal” he seemed to be telling his own story, his warm tone and impeccable diction ensuring that the simple ballad came across as one of the highlights of the evening. 

Goodness knows how many are learning the saxophone just now; they crop up at every concert. The pick of those on show was Henry Newbould, who brought exceptional delicacy to his playing of what can be a rather brash instrument. Poised in demeanour and capable of unleashing a fierce sound, he gave a polished account of three Danses Exotiques.

There was some fine string playing, too, notably by Michael Cheng in Praeludium and Allegro by Fritz Kreisler, who, as the leading violinist of his time, never composed for the faint-hearted.  Jacob Owen featured in a trio early in the concert and his cello was to be heard again in a Tarantella full of life and intensity.

Galin Ganchev rounded off the evening with a Rachmaninov Prelude, delivered with awe-inspiring authority. It was a reminder, if such be needed, of what a remarkable artist we have in residence. Galin is already half-way through his school career, so if you care about live music, you should catch him while you can.

So there it is, a selection – admittedly a personal one – of highlights from a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The show goes on, regularly on Fridays at lunchtime and on a much larger scale in the St Cecilia concerts this weekend. More treats in store.

MWK

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