“Unidentified Edges”: Geoff Palmer

Thursday, 2 November, at 12:45pm, at the Salvation Army Citadel, Aberdeen

Sound Festival in collaboration with Aberdeen Art Gallery Lunchbreaks

A programme that is very special to me: Geoff Palmer’s new song cycle, “Unidentified Edges”, on poems by Anne Cluysenaar (for voice and cello, played by Claire Babington). Her texts evoke the ancient ideas of the Universal Music, using modern imagery from physics and astronomy, such as the Higgs boson and the Kepler space telescope. We pair them with a collection of John Dowland, including some of his most philosophical lute songs. To finish with “…into the world of light”, by Geoff on a text of 17th-century metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan, composed as an elegy to Anne Cluysenaar.

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“La Naissance de la Musette”: Aberdeen Early Music Collective

Apparently, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s favourite instrument was the Musette, a gentle-sounding baroque bagpipe. As far as we can tell, however, our concert on Thursday, 28 September was the Musette’s first appearance in Aberdeen, in the hands (and under the arm) of Amanda Babington. The programme featured Michel Corrette’s cantata, “La Naissance de la Musette”, as well as Sonatas for musette (Senaillé), violin (Rebel), and cello (Boismortier), and finishing with a favourite cantata, “Pan et Sirinx” (Montéclair). Last time, we did this cantata with a (small) host of winds and strings and big bass; this time, just violin and continuo, but still an awesome cantata, despite the slightly disturbing message of the final aria!

“Frenemies”: Aberdeen Early Music Collective

On Thursday, 29 September, 7:30 pm, King’s College Chapel, the Aberdeen Early Music Collective kick off our 2016/17 activities with a new programme, based around composers who tangled with Händel in some fashion, whether with words, in business dealings, in musical battles, or with actual swords! There’s chamber music for varied combinations of recorders, violins, cello, and continuo, and some solo keyboard music, selected from Telemann, Marpurg, Mattheson, Porpora, and Scarlatti (Domenico, natch). And of course, just a bit of (attributed to) Händel to finish: the Gloria for soprano, 2 violins, and continuo.

“Der kleine Tod” first performance…

…received a very nice review from Alan Cooper:

“Today’s song duo gave us a marvellous account of all the songs. Frauke’s performance was wonderfully clean and clear with perfect German and a dynamic vocal range that went from the gentlest whispers to wonderfully passionate crescendos with pure clear firmly held top notes. […] The wide vocal leaps in the Strauss songs, one of this composer’s stylistic signatures, were beautifully smoothly and naturally sung […]. Ralph’s playing here was emblematic of his performances in all of the songs. In Wagner’s Im Treibhaus […]  the original piano score came through more expressively than in any of the orchestral versions I have heard.”

Der kleine Tod: Friday, 16 September, 4pm, King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen

With Ralph Stelzenmüller on piano, I’ll be performing an unusual juxtaposition of three cycles of Lieder: Alban Berg’s Op. 2, Richard Strauss’s Op. 27, and Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder. In that order! The texts and tonal language melt from one group of songs to the next, intertwining metaphors of sleep, death, love, and sexuality.

A stiff malt may be warranted afterwards.

Busy week recording Ruggieri

Seagulls! Despite the intrusive exclamations of the Aberdonian Mega-Gulls resident atop the towers of King’s College (I think they were teaching the fledglings to fly, and it was all terribly exciting), the Aberdeen Early Music Collective, and dearly beloved guests, managed to finish only a few hours behind schedule…Watch this space! On the menu was a representative collection of soprano and alto cantatas and trio sonatas from this contemporary of Vivaldi. Aberdeen musicologist Jasmin Cameron’s research has unearthed many interesting details of his somewhat dodgy life (he died in prison), and has made his works available for performance in modern editions.

Second instalment of Chez Schedel

We performed our second programme in the Chez Schedel project on Thursday 3 December (in King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen) and Saturday, 5 December (in Woodend Barn, Banchory), welcoming Marc Lewon (voice and lute) and Uri Smilansky (viola d’arco), along with Caroline Ritchie (viola d’arco) and Ralph Stelzenmüller (organ/harpsichord). The programme had a bit of a Christmas theme, and some audience participation: some digging in online hymn databases revealed a 19th-century English translation of Der Tag der ist so freudenreich, so we performed alternatim verses in German monophony, Latin polyphony, and instrumental settings, while the audience sang “Royal day that chasest gloom”. Marc’s beautifully-rendered Tenorlieder, especially athmospheric in the candle-lit warmth of Woodend Barn, helped expand the programme’s German content, while we continued to explore the renditions of French, English, and Italian repertoire in German manuscripts. One of my favourites is a Latin contrafact of Mille bonjours from the St-Emmeram Codex.