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    Programme for Season 2012

    This season has now concluded.  We include it for your interest.

    Bart Lafollette

    Rhodes Piano Trio

    Kathryn Rudge

    Heath Quartet

    Sunday 21 October 2012 at 4pm


    Bart Lafollette

    Piano and Cello Recital

    Cellist Bartholomew Lafollette
    Piano Mishka Momen



    1. JS Bach : Suite No. 3 in C major for unaccompanied cello
    2. Beethoven : Sonata No. 1 in F, Op. 5 No. 1
    3. De Falla : Suite Populaire Espagnole
    4. Brahms : Cello Sonata No. 1 in E min., Op. 38



    Artist Biography

    Cellist Bartholomew Lafollette was a pupil at the Yehudi Menuhin School from 1997 In 2003 he won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he continued his studies with Louise Hopkins. In 2007 he was selected for representation by Young Concert Artists Trust. As a recitalist and chamber musician Bart Lafollette has appeared at major venues including Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Fairfield Halls Croydon, the Purcell Room, St. George's Bristol, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.  Read more...

    Pianist Mishka is the youngest pupil ever to have been admitted by the Purcell School at the age of six on a full scholarship and where she was a pupil of Ilana Davids. Mishka is now a final year scholarship student at the Guildhall School of Music and has been studying with Imogen Cooper as her only student since 2006. Mishka has won several prestigious prizes and made her solo debut at the age of 10 since when she has performed in all of London’s major venues, Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, Barbican, Wigmore Hall, etc. She is regularly invited to give recitals hosted by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and the Chopin Society UK. She has performed abroad in Germany, New York, Prague, Mumbai and is a committed chamber musician.  Read more...

    Programme Notes

          by John Woollard


    JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH – Suite No. 3 in C major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1009

    1.   Prelude
    2.   Allemande
    3.   Courante
    4.   Sarabande
    5.   Bourrée I
    6.   Bourrée II
    7.   Gigue

    Bach worked in Köthen from 1717 to 1723 as Kapellmeister for Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen, and it was during his stay in this minor German principality that Bach composed some of his most celebrated music, including the Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier and his suites for unaccompanied cello.

    At Cothen Bach came into contact with two extraordinary musicians - the violinist and gamba player Christian Ferdinand Abel and the cellist Christian Bernard Linike. Either of these virtuosos may have been responsible for Bach's composition of six solo cello suites between 1717 and 1723. In these scores Bach transcended the limitations of Baroque convention. The cello was used as a virtuoso instrument rather than one that merely filled in a bass line. One of the most striking aspects of these suites is that they are unaccompanied. It was as if the composer were announcing the instrument's emergence. He also challenged the technical facility of the exponents of the new instrument. Here the cellist is totally unsupported. The skill of the performing artist is on display.

    The original manuscript of these cello suites has been lost. Contemporary performances have been based on facsimiles by Bach's widow Anna Magdalena and his student Kellner. These copied manuscripts often omit bowings, tempo markings, and ornaments. Many cellists have produced their own performing versions of these scores. The great cellist, conductor, and humanitarian Pablo Casals was responsible for introducing these remarkable works to 20th century audiences. While his approach was highly romanticized, Casals's deep love and respect for Bach and his innate humanity shine through every bar of his recordings of the suites. An historically informed performance of these works is as much a personal artistic choice as a performance conceived in more contemporary terms. Casals's more expressive approach with its roots in the 19th century concept of cello playing and composition was informed by works such as the Beethoven and Brahms in today’s programme, but is equally valid for its deeply felt eloquence. Casals worshipped Bach above all other composers. One of the fascinating aspects of these suites and the mysteries surrounding them is that each performer can bring his own personal concept and approach to the music. These works totally reconceived the cello as a solo instrument


    BEETHOVEN - Sonata No. 1 for cello    
    and piano in F major, Op. 5 No. 1

    1.   Adagio sostenuto - Allegro
    2.   Rondo. Allegro vivace

    Both Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven's older contemporaries, spent a lot of their career touring Europe and writing music and giving performances as the musical celebrities of their day. In February 1796 Beethoven set off on his own tour of central Europe visiting Prague, Dresden and Berlin, then the capital of Prussia. King Frederick William II was himself a music lover and talented amateur cellist who often played in string quartets and even his own opera orchestra and Beethoven soon set about composing works for the virtuoso court cellists, French brothers, Jean-Pierre and Jean-Louis Duport, during his stay.

    The modern cello emerged during the eighteenth century, and the elder Duport is often credited with the invention of the spike which modern cellists use to stabilise the instrument whilst it is being played. Hurriedly composed as they were these two sonatas mark the first modern cello and piano pieces, giving the instrument an equal voice with the piano part, in contrast to the previous obbligato role that composers assigned to the cello. Beethoven faced serious concerns as to whether the newly invented piano might swamp the sound from the gut strings of the cello, especially when playing more contemplative music, and he therefore avoided writing a slow movement for the sonata, providing instead a slow introduction, and an extended cadenza near the end of the work which would give the cellist an opportunity to display the sound of the instrument without being masked by the sound of the piano part. 

    Beethoven gave the first performance of both sonatas with Jean-Louis Duport at a concert at the Royal Palace which were highly acclaimed, and he also gave several solo piano recitals On his departure he received from the King a gold snuff-box filled with Louis d'ors and Beethoven declared with pride that it was not an ordinary snuff-box, but such a one as “it might have been customary to give to an ambassador ". He later said that he enjoyed his visit to Berlin more than any other city and there is some evidence that the King tried to recruit the composer as his court music director. Sadly the death of Frederick William II the next year put an end to any plans for his return as the new King was far less interested in music

    The works were published the following year in Vienna upon his return, dedicated to King Frederick William II himself.


    FALLA - Suite populaire espagnole (6 songs arr. for cello and piano, from "7 Canciones populares españolas")

    1.   El paño moruno
    2.   Nana
    3.   Canción
    4.   Polo
    5.   Asturiana
    6.   Jota

    Manuel de Falla, born in Cadiz in 1871, is today perhaps the most famous exception to the general rule that the best known “Spanish” music was written by Frenchmen such as Bizet, Debussy, Chabrier and Ravel. Falla studied initially in Madrid, but on the advice of his teachers moved to Paris in 1907 where he met many of the composers who had an influence on his style. King Alfonso XIII of Spain granted him a stipend to stay in Paris, where he gradually developed his mature style. In 1914 at the request of a Spanish singer, he completed a set of songs for soprano and piano, which he called “Siete canciones populares Españolas”, but declined to allow them a first performance in Paris because he found French audiences preferred Spanish music written by their own composers.

    The songs returned to Madrid with Falla when he was forced to leave France after the outbreak of the First World War, and they received their first performance in 1915 in Madrid, as something of a homecoming celebration for the composer. Following his return, Falla wrote most of the orchestral music for which he is now remembered, and instrumentalists identified the songs as good material for arrangements for them to play. Ten years later, Polish violinist Paul Kochanski reworked six of the songs for violin and piano, and a year or two later, French cellist Maurice Maréchal produced the version of the Suite for cello and piano, which we are going to hear this afternoon.

    In the original vocal/piano score, the keyboard evokes all types of Spanish musical voices. In the frequently sparse accompaniments you can identify the strumming of guitars, the clattering of castanets, and the stamping of Flamenco boots on hard floors. The six pieces reflect images of Seville, Andalusia, Asturias, and Aragon.

    Sadly Falla, having had to leave France because of the First World War, was further exiled by the Spanish Civil War, spending the end of his life in Argentina, because of his Republican sympathies.


    BRAHMS – Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38

    1.   Allegro non troppo (E minor)
    2.   Allegretto quasi Menuetto (A minor)
    3.   Allegro (E minor)

    Brahms was a severe self-critic, perhaps more than any of the great composers, and destroyed much of the music he wrote. In 1862 he wrote the first two movements of this sonata, together with an Adagio which he then discarded, and it was not until 1865 that he managed to complete the work. The period that he worked on the Sonata marked momentuous changes to the composer’s life. In 1862 he was a young composer/pianist struggling to make a name for himself in the shadow of the memory of Robert Schumann, who had died in 1856. By 1865, he had moved to Vienna to take up a position as a conductor, a change which was to have a profound effect upon him, and would eventually allow him to concentrate on his work as a composer. It is dedicated to Josef Gänsbacher, a Viennese singing professor and amateur cellist, who had secured the post of conductor of the Wiener Singakademie for the composer. Brahms himself said of the sonata that it was "a homage to J. S. Bach" and the principal theme of the first movement is based on Bach’s The Art of the Fugue.

    Brahms performed the sonata with Gänsbacher in July 1865. In the course of a private performance for an audience of friends, Brahms played so loudly that Gänsbacher complained that he could not hear his cello at all. "Lucky for you, too", growled Brahms, and let the piano rage on. Brahms offered the sonata to publishers Breitkopf & Härtel, who turned it down. He also sent the sonata to another publisher describing it, in one of the most inaccurate statements made by a major composer about his own work, as "a violoncello sonata which, as far as both instruments are concerned, is certainly not difficult to play". Simrock published it in 1866, and in 1867 it received its professional premiere in Basel,  Switzerland on 12th February, by Moritz Kahnt (cello) and Hans von Bülow (piano).


    Sunday 18 November 2012 at 4pm


    Rhodes Piano Trio

    Piano Trio

    Violin Michael Gurevich
    Cello David Edmonds
    Piano Robert Thompson



    1. Beethoven : Piano Trio in C min., Op. 1 No. 3
    2. Schumann : Piano Trio No. 3 in G min., Op. 110
    3. Mendelssohn : Piano Trio No. 1 in D. min. Op. 49



    Artist Biography

    In 2011 the Rhodes Piano Trio won 2nd Prize at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Selected for representation by YCAT in 2010, over the last year the Trio has given recitals at Purcell Room, Bridgewater Hall, the Chester, Lake District Summer Music, Edinburgh Fringe and Festspiele Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festivals. Earlier this year the Trio took part in masterclasses with Menahem Pressler, Mitsuko Uchida in Aldeburgh and with Ferenc Rados and Andras Keller at IMS Prussia Cove. Engagements this season include debut recitals at Wigmore Hall, Barbican and Schwetzinger Festspiele.

    All three members of the Rhodes Piano Trio enjoy great success individually, Robert Thompson completing his solo studies with Peter Frankl at Yale University, David Edmonds with Gregor Horsch in Dusseldorf and Michael Gurevich as a Junior Fellow at the RNCM and member of the London Haydn Quartet.  Read more...

    Programme Notes

          by John Woollard


    BEETHOVEN – Piano Trio No. 3
      in C minor, Op. 1 No. 3

    1.   Allegro con brio
    2.   Andante cantabile con variazioni
    3.   Menuetto. Quasi allegro
    4.   Finale. Prestissimo

    Prince Carl LichnowskyBeethoven as a pianist and enthusiastic writer of chamber music needed to find a medium in which he could write works which he would be able to perform. During his early years he experimented with various combinations of instruments, aiming to find a group which balanced the sounds of the instruments in such a way that no one instrument dominated. In 1785 he wrote an early set of piano quartets, which included a viola player, but he rejected that as a medium as he was not satisfied with the balance. The three String Trios Op. 1 were by no means his first works, nor even his first published works. They were dedicated to Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, a patron who financed Beethoven extensively, allowing him to pursue the unusual path of a freelance musician at a time when so many composers and players served in the households of the rich and powerful.

    The choice of piano trio was safe and practical. Safe, because the piano trio was considered a generally lighter genre with a less daunting history than the string quartet. Practical, because Beethoven himself was a brilliant pianist in need of performance material favoring his participation and leadership. Haydn had written a large number of wonderful piano trios that were essentially piano sonatas with string reinforcements. Mozart had written a handful, at least two of them masterworks worthy for three independent players. But both composers wrote trios with three or fewer movements, never exceeding around twenty minutes in length and hardly ever reaching the depths of their other chamber works. With his three new piano trios, Beethoven raised the stakes by adding a fourth movement, extending the length, deepening the emotional expression, giving almost equal roles to each of the players and gathering a great diversity of character and mood within a single set.

    The works received their first performance in 1795 in Lichnowsky’s Vienna palace, and amongst the guests was Haydn himself, who is said to have told Beethoven, "You give me the impression of a man with more than one head, more than one heart and more than one soul!" Whilst Haydn greatly approved of the first two Trios he advised Beethoven to withhold publication of the Third Trio, suggesting that it was perhaps too serious too soon; the public would neither understand nor approve. This rankled Beethoven and contributed to a rather cool relationship between the two composers.


    SCHUMANN - Piano Trio No. 3 in G minor, Op. 110

    1.   Bewegt, doch nicht zu rasch
        (animated, but not too quickly)
    2.   Ziemlich langsam (larghetto)
    3.   Rasch (quickly)
    4.   Kräftig, mit Humor (strongly, with humour)

    Daguerrotype from 1850Robert Schumann had a life long history of medical problems which influenced his life and music in many ways. Throughout his life he had episodic periods of depression which significantly reduced his compositional output. At the age of 34 he had a complete nervous breakdown and refused to listen to any of his music. Ten years later in 1854 he tried to take his own life by jumping in the Rhine. He was admitted into an asylum and died there two years later. Schumann created two contrasting personas – Florestan (spontaneous) and Eusebius (introverted) and these characters repeatedly occur in his compositions. This combined with obsessive repeated rhythms, fleeting phrases, abrupt transitions and radical use of harmony, it has been argued constitutes a musical mind beset with Bipolar disorder, but he was still capable of writing some of the finest and original music of the romantic period.

    From 1850 to 1854, Schumann composed in a wide variety of genres. Critics have disputed the quality of his work at this time; a widely held view has been that his music showed signs of mental breakdown and creative decay. More recently, critics have suggested that the changes in style may be explained by "lucid experimentation".

    Composed in 1851, the last of three works that Schumann wrote for this combination of instruments, the Trio is separated in time from the two earlier trios by a period of serious mental instability for the composer. He had taken the post of conductor of the prestigious Städtische Musikverein zu Düsseldorf, a position for which he was entirely unsuited according even to his friends. He neglected his duties, often to enable him to find the time to compose, and his behaviour on the podium quickly aroused the hostility of musicians and audience.

    ‘Robert is working busily on a Trio for piano, violin and cello’, Clara Schumann confided to her diary on 11 October 1851, ‘but he won’t let me hear any of it at all until he is completely finished. I only know that it is in G minor’. The first rehearsal of the new work, a fortnight or so later, made a deep impression on Clara. ‘It is original’, she wrote, ‘and increasingly passionate, especially the scherzo, which carries one along with it into the wildest depths’.

    Clara Schumann was able to play both the Trio and the D minor Violin Sonata during a chamber music evening at their house, on 15 November. The string players on that occasion were Schumann’s violinist friend Joseph von Wasielewski, and the principal cellist of the Düsseldorf orchestra, Christian Reimers.

    Schumann’s last piano trio is a piece that has all but disappeared from the repertoire. Together with some of his other late chamber works, it has sometimes been cited as evidence of the composer’s weakening creative strength—a judgement with which any listener carried away by the surging passion of its opening Allegro, the warmth of its slow movement or the sweeping continuity of its scherzo may find it hard to concur. If the finale strikes us as rather more episodic, it nevertheless draws the threads of the work together with remarkable subtlety.


    MENDELSSOHN – Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49

    1.   Molto allegro agitato
    2.   Andante con moto tranquillo
    3.   Scherzo. Leggiero e vivace
    4.   Finale. Allegro assai appassionato

    It has been suggested that the reason so many composers wrote so few trios is that three is a crowd and difficult to maintain in true harmony. Yet it remains a fact that some of the greatest musical experiences come from trios, such as Beethoven’s Archduke, Dvorák’s Dumky and Brahms’ great Horn Trio. Haydn’s vast output of quality music includes 125 baryton trios and thirty-one piano trios, while Mozart left only seven piano trios, one more than Beethoven. It is perhaps significant that writing for three instruments invariably brings out the best in a composer, and equally so that Mendelssohn’s two piano trios belong to the last years of his short yet highly productive life. A life which, seen in retrospect, covered an enormous musical spectrum and finally burnt out in an excess of energy.

    Haydn died less than four months after Mendelssohn was born, and the following year saw the births of both Chopin and Schumann, with Liszt only a year later. When Mendelssohn was born, Beethoven had eighteen more productive years to live, Berlioz was a boy of six, Rossini was flexing his creative muscles at seventeen, Schubert was twelve, and only four years later both Verdi and Wagner were to arrive in the world. Mendelssohn, uniquely among his contemporaries, was born into a wealthy, cultured Berlin household, where artists were constant visitors and the youngsters of the family were encouraged to develop their own creative instincts.

    Small wonder that young Felix became a master musical craftsman before reaching his teens. Much of the credit for this belongs to the Sunday musical gatherings in the Mendelssohn home, when first rate amateur as well as visiting professional players would get together to perform music, including the works of the boy of the house. No budding composer could have asked for a better training ground in which to develop his gifts. Much of that early music survived, and some of it was even approved by the composer for publication in later years, but an early trio of that time appears to have been destroyed. He was not to attempt another piano trio for more than twenty years.

    Twenty years in which he established a considerable reputation as a highly practical and equally cultured artist, whose friends ranged from Weber and Goethe to Cherubini, Rossini, Paganini, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann, who sent Mendelssohn the newly discovered score of Schubert’s Great Symphony in 1838. Mendelssohn’s musicianship knew no bounds, and he was famous for conducting the first ‘modern’ performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 1829, a month after his own twentieth birthday. He was also associated as conductor with the great Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, while his regular visits to England had brought his own music to the forefront of English programmes, enhanced by his friendship with Queen Victoria.

    The trio was completed on 23 September 1839 and published the following year. The trio is one of Mendelssohn's most popular chamber works and is recognized as one of his greatest along with his Octet, Op. 20. During the initial composition of the work, Mendelssohn took the advice of a fellow composer, Ferdinand Hiller, and revised the piano part. The revised version was in a more romantic, Schumannesque style with the piano given a more important role in the trio. Indeed, the revised piece was reviewed by Schumann who declared Mendelssohn to be "the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the most illuminating of musicians."


    Sunday 7 April 2013 at 3:30pm


    Kathryn Rudge

    Lieder & Arias

    Mezzo Soprano Kathryn Rudge
    Piano James Baillieu



    A lighthearted programme of arias from Mozart's "Figaro", Bizet's "Carmen", songs by Schubert, English songs and finishing with Novello


    Artist Biography

    Mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge was featured as the new face of classical music in ‘The Times Rising Stars of 2012′. She made her much praised professional opera debut in 2012 as an ENO Young Artist at the London Coliseum in the role of Cherubino in Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. She was also ‘Debutante of the Month‘ in the International Opera Now Magazine. In 2012 she made her debut with Opera North in the role of Sesto in Handel’s ‘Giulio Cesare’ to critical acclaim. In the autumn of 2012 she made her debut with Glyndebourne Touring Opera revisiting the role of Cherubino in their new production of Mozart’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’. In 2013 she will perform the role of Annio in Opera North’s production of Mozart’s ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ Kathryn is currently represented by the Young Classical Artists’ Trust.  Read more...

    Described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘in a class of his own’, pianist James Baillieu has been the prize-winner of the Wigmore Hall Song Competition, Das Lied International Song Competition (in both 2009 & 2011), Kathleen Ferrier and Richard Tauber Competitions. Over the last year he has recorded for BBC Radio 3 with the Elias Quartet and Allan Clayton while giving solo and chamber recitals throughout Europe and further afield, collaborating with singers Jared Holt, Gerard Collett, Sir Thomas Allen, Katherine Broderick, Martene Grimson, Jacques Imbrailo, Sarah-Jane Brandon and Kishani Jayasinghe. Festivals and venues have included Wigmore Hall, Festpillene i Bergen, the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Aix-en-Provence, Derry and Norfolk & Norwich Festivals. He was selected for representation by Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2010.  Read more...

    Programme Notes

          by John Woollard


    What is a Mezzo Soprano?

    Classical singers are always categorised. Every singer is identified in concert and opera programmes by a label used to identify their voice type. Whilst the four basic voice types are soprano, alto, tenor and bass, there are so many variations, and extra categories.

    “Mezzo Soprano” is Italian, loosely translating as half-soprano or semi-soprano. It could be said to be half way between soprano and alto or contralto, but that would be no more than a rough guide. Mezzo-sopranos generally have a heavier, darker tone than sopranos. The mezzo-soprano voice resonates in a higher range than that of a contralto. In current operatic practice, female singers with very low tessituras are often included among mezzo-sopranos, because singers in both ranges are able to cover the other, and true operatic contraltos are very rare. Any singer will use the labels to promote themselves, as the type of voice dictates the roles and works they can tackle. In Germany the system requires even more detailed categorisation. Mezzo sopranos themselves are divided into three sub groups – the lyric, dramatic and coloratura mezzo, and each defines the roles which the singer is expected to be able to tackle. The labels however can be no more than guides. Carmen is perhaps the most prominent mezzo soprano role in 19th century opera, but any opera director who had told Maria Callas that she could not tackle the role because she was a soprano probably would not have lasted long!

    While mezzo-sopranos typically sing secondary roles in operas, notable exceptions include the title role in Bizet's Carmen, Angelina (Cinderella) in Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Rosina in Rossini's Barber of Seville (all of which are also sung by sopranos). Many 19th-century French-language operas gave the leading female role to mezzos, including Béatrice et Bénédict, La damnation de Faust, Don Quichotte, La favorite, Mignon, Samson et Dalila, Les Troyens, and Werther, as well as Carmen.

    Typical roles for mezzo-sopranos include the triad associated with contraltos of "witches, bitches, and britches": witches, nurses, and wise women, such as Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore; villains and seductresses such as Amneris in Verdi's Aida; and "breeches roles" (male characters played by female singers) such as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Mezzo-sopranos are also well represented in baroque music, early music, and baroque opera. Some roles designated for lighter soubrette sopranos are sung by mezzo sopranos, who often provide a fuller, more dramatic quality. Such roles include Despina in Mozart's Così fan tutte and Zerlina in his Don Giovanni. Mezzos also sometimes play dramatic soprano roles such as Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth, and Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal.

    A coloratura mezzo-soprano has a warm lower register and an agile high register. The roles they sing often demand not only the use of the lower register but also leaps into the upper tessitura with highly ornamented, rapid passages. What distinguishes these voices from being called sopranos is their extension into the lower register and warmer vocal quality. Although coloratura mezzo-sopranos have impressive and at times thrilling high notes, they are most comfortable singing in the middle of their range, rather than the top.

    Many of the hero roles in the operas of Handel and Monteverdi, originally sung by male castrati, can be successfully sung today by coloratura mezzo-sopranos. Rossini (who was married to one of the century’s most famous mezzos, Isabel Colbran) demanded similar qualities for his comic heroines, and Vivaldi wrote roles frequently for this voice as well. Coloratura mezzo-sopranos also often sing lyric-mezzo soprano roles or soubrette roles.

    The lyric mezzo-soprano has a very smooth, sensitive and at times lachrymose quality. Lyric mezzo-sopranos do not have the vocal agility of the coloratura mezzo-soprano or the size of the dramatic mezzo-soprano but are ideal for most trouser roles.

    Finally, a dramatic mezzo-soprano has a strong medium register, a warm high register and a voice that is broader and more powerful than the lyric and coloratura mezzo-sopranos. This voice has less vocal facility than the coloratura mezzo-soprano. The dramatic mezzo-soprano can sing over an orchestra and chorus with ease and was often used in the 19th century opera, to portray older women, mothers, witches and evil characters. Verdi wrote many roles for this voice in the Italian repertoire and there are also a few good roles in French Literature. The majority of these roles, however, are within the German Romantic repertoire of composers like Wagner and Richard Strauss.


    Sunday 5 May 2013 at 3:30pm


    Heath Quartet

    String Quartet

    Violin Oliver Heath
    Violin Cerys Jones
    Viola Gary Pomeroy
    Cello Christopher Murray



    1. Haydn : String quartet in G, Op. 77 No. 1
    2. Beethoven : String Quartet in C, Op. 59 No. 3 “Rasumovsky”
    3. Mendelssohn : String quartet No. 5 in E flat, Op. 44 No. 3


    Artist Biography

    The Heath Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting and original voice on the international chamber music scene. Selected for representation by YCAT in 2008 they immediately went on to win 1st Prize at the Tromp International Competition in Eindhoven and 2nd Prize at the Haydn International Competition in Vienna. In 2011 they were awarded a prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Special Ensemble Scholarship and in the same year undertook two complete Beethoven Quartet cycles at the Fàcyl Festival in Salamanca Spain and at Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh. The Quartet were presented with a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel Award after unanimous praise from The Herald's music critics in Edinburgh.
    Engagements this season include recitals at Wigmore Hall as part of the Emerging Talent scheme, including the premiere of a new work by Luke Bedford and collaborations with Stephen Hough and Ian Bostridge. They make their debut at the Kissingen Winterzauber Festival in Germany, the deSingel Arts Centre in Antwerp as part of a Britten Day, return to the Netherlands, and tour throughout Argentina.   Read more...

    Programme Notes

          by John Woollard


    JOSEF HAYDN (1732 – 1809) – String Quartet in G major, Op. 77, No. 1, Hob.III:81

    1.   Allegro moderato
    2.   Adagio
    3.   Menuetto. Presto
    4.   Finale. Presto

    Josef Haydn is perhaps best known for the fact that he wrote at least 104 symphonies, nearly all of which are still featured in concert programmes, but his staggering output also included 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas and 68 string quartets. Perhaps somewhat overshadowed until recently by his disciple, Ludwig van Beethoven, he now is beginning to re-emerge as the consummate musician and composer that he was. He can justly lay claim to the title of father both of the symphony and the string quartet, but also did much to change the position of the composer. Both he and Mozart started their careers in the 18th century tradition as servants of rich nobles and churchmen. Haydn broke the mould. By the time this quartet was written he was established in his own right, touring Europe and writing music for commissions from impresarios such as Salomon in London. In particular his visits to London was a huge success. Audiences flocked to Haydn's concerts; he augmented his fame and made large profits, thus becoming financially secure.

    1799 quietly witnessed a great turning point in the history of the string quartet. With Mozart gone, both an elderly Haydn and a young Beethoven were simultaneously working on a new set of string quartets: Haydn’s last and Beethoven’s first and for this noteworthy “passing of the baton”, the composers shared a common patron. A young Prince Lobkowitz commissioned both composers around the same time. Beethoven’s Op. 18 was published at the end of 1801, Haydn’s Op. 77 in early 1802. It is no surprise that Haydn’s last quartets are often called “Beethovenian” just as Beethoven’s first quartets may be called “Haydnesque.” Together, they comprise a great high water mark of the mature Viennese style before Beethoven’s middle period expansion. And just as Beethoven’s quartets are “early”, close to Haydn as a model, Haydn’s final quartets represent his own most modern, consolidated and polished efforts in the form with many forward looking aspects, and were so influential on Beethoven, even looking forward another thirty years with pre-echoes of the music of Mendelssohn.

    In summary, this “late” work of Haydn’s shows absolutely no diminution of craft, creativity or energy. Apparently as a conscious choice, Haydn chose to quit on a high note leaving yet another exemplar of a genre he largely invented and surely perfected. This work and its companion Op. 77 work are the last string quartets he finished, though he still had another ten years of life ahead.


    LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827) - String Quartet in C major, Op. 59 No. 3, “Rasumovsky”

    1.   Andante con moto - Allegro vivace (C major)
    2.   Andante con moto quasi allegretto (A minor)
    3.   Menuetto (Grazioso) (C major)
    4.   Allegro molto (C major)

    Without Haydn’s example, Beethoven might have found it much more difficult to carve out his pre-eminent position as a composer in early 19th Century Viennese life. By the time he started work on his Op. 59 quartets, Mozart had already been dead for 14 years, whilst Haydn was still very much alive and composing, providing much ceremonial and large scale ecclesiastical music for the city.

    Beethoven's middle period, sometimes called his 'heroic' period, began with a huge spiritual crisis around 1801: he realized, or finally admitted to himself and close friends, that he was going deaf, a disability that was disastrous professionally (much of his living was earned as a pianist), but that also - and in the end just as significantly - caused him to withdraw from social life. His emergence from this crisis was, by means of a compositional development: to a series of grand 'public' works that would cement his reputation as Europe's most celebrated composer of instrumental music: the Eroica symphony, the 'Waldstein' and 'Appassionata' piano sonatas all come from this period; and so too do the three quartets Op. 59 - which were written around 1805-6.

    Haydn may well be regarded as the father of the string quartet, but when he stopped composing quartets in 1799, he passed the baton to the younger composer, who then developed the form out of all recognition. The idea of the string quartet, its unprecedented prestige in the Western canon, is inescapably associated with Beethoven, who dedicated himself to the medium with peculiar intensity at three separate periods of his life, and who in the process created a body of work that all subsequent composers felt (some more willingly than others) they were obliged to emulate. The Beethoven quartets have long been regarded, by listeners and players alike, as the pinnacle of the repertoire: never to be played or talked about without a sense of reverence for one of the weightiest monuments of our culture.

    The Viennese knew that they were in the presence of genius when they encountered Beethoven’s work, but they did not fully understand it. Whilst it might be common nowadays to regard modern composers as incomprehensible, we blame the composer for our lack of comprehension. Viennese audiences tended to blame themselves for not being equipped to fully understand Beethoven’s message. What's striking is how far back this reverential attitude goes. Of course, there are famous stories of the incomprehension some of Beethoven's early audiences felt; but, remarkably and quite unusually for the period, the lack of understanding was very often assumed to be the fault of the audience rather than the piece in question. The message was plain: these works were complicated for a reason; they were not entertainment; and they needed to study them in order to understand them. This attitude, which was common to most of Beethoven's instrumental works, gradually spread through Europe in the early decades of the nineteenth century, and was fuelled rather than dampened by the composer's death in 1827. In short, Beethoven's most famous works were powerful drivers in enormous changes in the ways music was performed, listened to and written about; Amongst these were the decisive emergence of silent, attentive listening; the parallel emergence of instrumental music as more serious than vocal music; an increasing sense that a certain strand of this instrumental music, now commonly called 'classical music', was spiritually uplifting and morally superior; a new hierarchy between the composer and the performer, one that saw the latter as merely a vehicle to express the thoughts of the former; and an increased attention to, and reverence for, the score as a repository of the 'work'. Beethoven’s work simply marks the decisive emergence of 'our' classical musical world, with its concert going, its silent listening, and all the rest. That is why Beethoven is such an icon – not just for the quality of his music but also because he set the parameters by which classical music has developed over the last 200 years.


    FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) – String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3

    1.   Allegro vivace
    2.   Scherzo: Assai leggiero vivace
    3.   Adagio non troppo
    4.   Molto allegro con fuoco

    Mendelssohn benefited hugely from the way in which music had developed as a result of Beethoven. A grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family, although initially he was raised without religion and was later baptised as a Reformed Christian. Mendelssohn was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his talent. He came from a solidly middle class and well respected Berlin family and his Jewish descent did not limit his horizons. No one would have considered the neatly dressed, mild-mannered Mendelssohn a colossus.

    His music was not “colossal.” The time he lived in was not good for such colossal ideas. People wanted to maintain the status-quo. After years of warfare and financial instability, people became more conservative in their politics, their ideas, their issues. Rather than debate the humanitarian issues of the Napoleonic Era, they were more concerned about fashion or how to make a good enough living to leave money and property to their sons, about having their daughters married to good men who could provide for them.

    Rather than deeper, intensely personal issues like “the meaning of life,” people discussed what material things could give their life meaning. Rather than looking for adventure, men sought lives in business rather than the military. People didn't want that kind of excitement in their lives.

    Mendelssohn took great advantage of the new order. Instead of taking up a position as the servant of a great lord or King, he was able to carve a career for himself as both a composer and a conductor. He associated with royalty not as an equal but certainly not as a lowly member of the household. He regularly visited England where he was highly regarded and met Queen Victoria and her musical husband Prince Albert, who both greatly admired his music. He worked as a composer, conductor and pianist, holding positions that even today still exist such as the Chief Conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Mendelssohn lived a comfortable life. His music sounds comfortable, but it is also as much a part of the age Mendelssohn lived in. The “Biedermeir” age in Germany – very similar to the Victorian Age in England later in the century – was an era when people didn't express their emotions in public. It was a “comfortable” age when you wanted stability, not adventure. People didn't want to take risks because you might lose what you had. Rather than being emotional, they were sentimental.