Monday, 28 December 2009

Basingstoke Concert Club - Rave Review!

We have realy enjoyed rounding off this year of concerts with some Christmas-themed performances, and were fortunate enough have some of them reviewed. Below is the review from our concert for Basingstoke Concert Club on 5 Decemer 2009:

Four Girls Four Harps
Basingstoke Concert Club
Trinity Methodist Church, Basingstoke

Members of the audience were greeted by an impressive sight as they entered. At the front of the church were ranged four handsome instruments, each harp different from the others, gold, polished wood, dark and light, ornamented and plain. We were to be entertained by the Barkham Harp Quartet, Eleanor Turner, Keziah Thomas, Harriet Adie and Angharad Wyn Jones.

What an unusual ensemble this was. Their programme consisted mainly of arrangements of works for other combinations of instruments, most of them done most skilfully by members of the group. Their playing was characterised by a charming rapport with one another, and with the audience, each displaying virtuosic skill, yet blending seamlessly together.

They opened with movements from Handel’s Water Music, and continued with extracts from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. This was followed by arrangements of Christmas carols, in the style of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. The audience had fun trying to work out which of the familiar tunes were disguised in these very interesting settings.Movements from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite lent themselves well to the harps, especially the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, but we must all have been wondering what they would make of Saint Saens’s Carnival of the Animals -how do you portray an elephant on harps? – but they managed it.

Perhaps the most interesting piece was Saraswati by Edward Longstaff, inspired by Indian music combined with a minimalist style. The Quartet had, on previous occasions, been joined to play this by Sanju Sahai on the Indian tabla. We were not privileged to hear this unusual blend of eastern and western culture, but nevertheless, the harps alone produced some fascinating new sounds and motifs.

Members of the quartet were happy to explain and demonstrate some of the mysteries of harp technique and construction, and ended their recital with two encores, an arrangement of the well-known Sleigh Ride, and another of Gershwin’s Summertime. The large and enthusiastic audience was treated to an enjoyable and attractive programme by a group of highly talented and committed young musicians.

The Concert was sponsored by Lynn Ten Kate in memory of her friend Roland Weisz, who died a year ago.

David Lucas

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