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

2008 Concert Programme

Date

Programme

4th July

Bach 3 fugues from Art of the Fugue
Haydn Op. 20 No.2
Beethoven Op.131

6th July

Haydn Op.64 No.6
Bartok Quartet No 3
Beethoven Op.59 No.1

9th July

Cantiones of Oswestry
Music for a Summer's Evening

11 July

Beethoven Op.18 No. 2
Britten Quartet No. 1
Schumann Quartet in A major

13th July

Mozart Quintet K174
Brahms Quintet No 2
Brahms Sextet
With Bruno Schrecker and Peter Carter

The four Concerts of the Allegri Quartet took place at St Myllin's Church, while Cantiones performed in the grounds of Bodfach Hall, just outside Llanfyllin.

We are extremely grateful, as ever, to Christopher Symons for his programme notes, a wonderful blend of readable scholarship and musicality, and a real contribution to our enjoyment of the music.

Rebecca Bailey, our Educational Outreach Officer, has written a report on the two visits the Allegri made to schools in the area as part of the Festival. It is good to hear that the children of Llanfyllin and Llanfechain are hearing such good music from such fantastic performers at such an early age!

It is even better to see that their interest survives - as witness this review by one of our younger audience members. Long may it continue.

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4 July 2008 – The Allegri Quartet

Bach 3 fugues from Art of the Fugue
Haydn Op. 20 No.2
Beethoven Op.131

The concert began somewhat unexpecedly for a quartet concert, with three contrapuncti from The Art of Fugue. Abstract music at its purest, although not written for the String Quartet, it made a very pleasing start to the Festival. As Pal Banda is leaving the Quartet and has other engagements this weekend his place was taken this evening by Bozidar Vokotic, 'cellist of the Tippett Quartet. As always, the change in personal gives a different sound, and a different inflection to pieces we may have heard from the Allegri before - one of the great advantages of a live performance over a recording!

It was raining as we turned in to Llanfyllin, so one of Haydn's Sun Quartets was a welcome change in the weather. It is easy to misconstrue Papa Haydn as a good-humoured and somewhat facile composer, but the Allegri Quartet - in all of its' configurations - has never make this mistake. The terrifying glance over the precipice at the beginning of the second movement was ample evidence of this. Hadyn's good cheer is not a matter of insensibility, but a more positive quality, born of a robust refusal to allow dark moments to overshadow the light. The Allegri gave us a vivid, vibrant performance that merited the appellation "sunshiney"!

During his introduction to the second half, Raffy pointed out that the entire programme had been built around the use of fugue, and noted in passing that Fugue seems to be an obsession of a composer's final years. In Beethoven's Quartet Op 131 - as in much of Beethoven's later work - we ran the whole gamut of emotion, from rollicking jollity to heart-wrenching grief. The darkness always seems a little closer in Beethoven's world. This was a rousing performance, as exhilerating as a really close thunderstorm can be when one is safe indoors.

The Festival is truly off to a flying start!

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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6 July 2008 – The Allegri Quartet

Haydn Quart Opus 64 No 6 in E flat
Bartok Quartet No 3
Beethoven Quartet Opus 59 No 1 in F

This evening the 'cello desk was occupied by Bruno Schrecker, who founded this Festival over thirty years ago. Needless to state he was greeted by great enthusiasm by the audience! In the Haydn we saw again that sense of enjoyment that the Allegri so often manage to convey - that sense of four friends playing for their own entertainment, who have invited us to join the fun. The playing was delicate, playful and altogether enchanting.

Bruno heralded a programme change when he introduced the second piece by saying that he was never especially fond of the Bartok Quartet No 3 during his working life. So instead of the Bartok we had Dvorak's American Quartet - of which Bruno said "it is so beautiful that if you don't like it, then I don't think I can like you!" - a stricture accepted by the audience in the spirit in which it was intended. The Allegri performed with a spaciousness that allowed those famous melodies to breathe without being stretched to breaking point, and with a sense of rhythmic excitement that took us all into the interval with smiles on our faces.

Things became a little more serious in the second half - although the first of Beethoven's Rasoumovsky Quartets is by no means a grief-laden or angst-ridden piece, in spite of a desperately sad slow movement, it is certainly not frivolous salon music. Again we heard a performance which was fresh and full of excitement, even though the musicians must have performed it tens of times in their careers.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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9 July 2008 – Cantiones of Oswestry

Music for a Summer Evening

The weather did not favour a picnic for Cantiones of Oswestry's Concert of Music for a Summer Evening, unfortunately - in fact, it was raining very heavily. Still, there was a marquee set up to shelter both audience and performers, and I think none of us could claim to be surprised by the weather!

The concert began with a cycle of Folk Song settings by John Rutter - a familiar, summery sound, and many old favourites made their appearances, "The Keel Row", and "Afton Water", among others. There were eleven of these, some of them full chorus and others showcasing one or other section of the choir.

The second half ranged across time and space, with what turned out to be a particularly apposite emphasis on watery themes. We had church music (Victoria and Palestrina), madrigals, and music by Elgar and EJ Moeren, together with some elements of "Cats" and a little Arthur Sullivan. Some of the members of the choir are instrumentalists as well, and a clarinet solo and a flute duet were added to the programme.

The choir and the Festival are both most grateful to Mr and Mrs Simon Baynes and the Bodfach Trust for making the lovely grounds of Bodfach Hall available for the evening. The setting, the music and the performance combined to create a most enjoyable musical evening.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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11 July 2008 – The Allegri String Quartet

Beethoven Quartet Op 18 No 2 in G
Britten Quartet No 1 in D
Schumann Quartet in A major

The 'cello desk was takn tonight by Sally Pendlebury, and we were all delighted that the pleasant sunny evening we think of as Festival Weather has finally made an appearance.

The Beethoven Quartet Op 18 No 2 in G is a genial work, and the Allegri performed with a sort of radiant playfulness that was very engaging.

In his introduction to the Britten, Raffy described it as a "subversive" piece and had us all on the look-out for expectations unfulfilled and habitual ideas overset. Nor were we disappointed, and if the piece does not have the charm of the first piece in the programme, the absolute integrity of the performance gave us a glimpse, perhaps, of Britten at play.

The second half was taken up with the Schumann Quartet No 3. Raffy's introduction described it as "experimental" and "gratuitiously difficult in parts", but needless to state the Allegri rose magnificently to the challenge and brought the concert to a rousing conclusion.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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13 July 2008 – The Allegri String Quartet With Peter Carter and Bruno Schrecker

Mozart Quintet K174 in B flat
Brahms Quintet No 2 in G
Brahms Sextet in G major

There is always a slight sense of "the world upside down" for long-time festival goers seeing Peter Carter walk on with a viola. Not that we have any complaints about the performance... This was also Pal's final concert with the Quartet - even if in fact he was playing in a Quintet and a Sextet instead, in keeping with the tradition of the Festival, of welcoming additional performers for the second weekend.

Raffy explained that Mozart had written two Trios for this Quintet, and with typical adventurous perversity the Allegri had chosen to play the one he scrapped - apparently they prefer it! Certainly we heard a delightful performance tonight, delicate, playful and yet expansive.

The Brahms Quintet was altogether different, much denser in texture, ample evidence of the different ways in which different composers handle the same forces. Almost orchestral in sonority, it offered ample opportunity in particular for Dot's Viola and Pal's 'Cello to shine.

In the second half, the Allegri were joined by both Bruno and Peter for the Brahms Sextet. Exuberant, tender, riotous and pensive by turns, this was a fantastic performance which brought the Festival to a rousing conclusion. If only we could hear such music every week!

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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