New William Drake organ at Chelsea Old Church

Celebrity Opening Concert – William Drake organ
Nathan Laube

Chelsea Old Church, 19 January 2020

Opening recitals on new organs raise several issues. The performance must, of course, be excellent in itself, regardless of the occasion. But the organ also needs to be demonstrated in a manner that future organ recitals do not need to. I have given several recitals (including, for example, at St John’s, Smith Square) where I have used little more than half of the available stops, to produce a sound that the composer might just recognise. But for an opening recital, a thorough exploration of the sounds of the new instrument is expected. If the organ is built in a specific historic style, the expectation may be that the music of that period dominates. But many organs are built in an eclectic style, capable, in theory, of coping with music from several different historical periods. Continue reading

BBC Prom 9: Mozart & Mendelssohn

BBC Prom 9: Mozart & Mendelssohn
Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, Rosa Feola, Jérémie Rhorer
Royal Albert Hall, 22 July 2016 

Mozart: Symphony No 39, ‘Ah, lo previdi’; Mendelssohn: ‘Italian’ Symphony; ‘Infelice’.

Making their Proms début, the French period instrument orchestra, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, their conductor and founder, Jérémie Rhorer, and the Italian soprano, Rosa Feola, presented a fascinating programme comparing music by Mozart and Mendelssohn. Perhaps because of what might have been seen as a fairly safe programme, this relatively unknown orchestra managed to achieve a full house of some 5000 people – quite an achievement. Regular Proms goers should have got used to period instrument orchestras in the vast expanse of the Royal Albert Hall, but newcomers expecting a wall of sound would probably have been surprised by the delicacy of the sound.

There is always a risk of trying to force the sound into the space but, sensibly, Continue reading

Duet: Cornelius, Mendelssohn, Schumann

Cornelius, Mendelssohn, Schumann
Lucy Crowe & William Berger, with Iain Burnside (piano)
Delphian. DCD34167. 60’23.

Cornelius: Duette, Op. 16,  Frühling im Sommer, Zweistimmige Lieder,  Zu den Bergen hebt sich ein Augenpaar;
Mendelssohn: Lieder-Duette, Altdeutsches Frühlingslied ‘Der trübe Winter ist vorbei’;
Schumann: Dein Angesicht, Familien-Gemälde, Das Glück, Ich bin dein Baum, Aufträge, Wiegenlied.

Schumann Mendelssohn Cornelius Duet Lucy William Berger Iain Burnside DelphianThis rather unusual CD reflects one of the glories of 19th century domestic music-making (itself reaching its zenith in that period), the repertoire for two voices and piano, in this case represented by Cornelius, Mendelssohn, and Schumann, three of the finest masters of the genre. Generally overlooked nowadays in favour of larger scale performances, this CD reflects a now almost completely forgotten aspect of earlier home life: music making centred on the domestic piano. However, in this case, the venue is more likely to be a saloon, given the recording acoustic of a church and the rather unauthentic use of a modern concert grand piano (given its own billing in the programme note as a Steinway model D, serial number 589064) rather than a period piano – or, indeed, the more likely upright to be found in most 19th century homes. Continue reading