Hartlepool Music Society
23rd Season 2007-8
International Recital Series
(Registered Charity No 1071293)

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Reviews from our 2007/8 Season

Report on Piano Recital by Sarah-Beth Briggs who performed at Hartlepool Music Society on Friday 7th December 2007 at Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre.

By Laurie Giles


Friday, 7 th . December saw the welcome return to the Town Hall Theatre of Sarah-Beth Briggs, one of the favourite artists of the Hartlepool Music Society. This is her fourth visit and it made clear why she remains a favourite. Not only is her playing powerful where needed and delicate where appropriate, but her deeply thoughtful interpretations are of world class musicality.

Friday's recital began with Bach's Partita No.1 to be followed by Mozart's Sonata in F K.332 to finish the first half with Bartok's early Suite for Piano. Her Bach, as ever, was musical, precise with clear polyphony throughout and a sprightly dance style where needed. Bach's melodic decoration in both left and right hands was always tastefully thought out. The Mozart Sonata in F demonstrated the same overall clarity and crispness with neatly chosen tempi and dynamics in all three movements. Sarah-Beth spoke of this Sonata with enthusiasm and played it as the rather neglected masterpiece that it is. The Bartok Suite made an excellent “first half ender”. Sarah emphasised the folk qualities of Bartok's writing as well as his uncompromising percussive style and yet his lyricism in the final “Sostenuto” movement.

In the second half Sarah showed her sympathy with the piano music of Brahms, and the three Intermezzi and the powerful Rhapsody Op.119 came across in their varied moods as well-loved old friends to Sarah - and to us all. The three popular Debussy Preludes emphasised the power of his keyboard writing in the first two (West Wind and Submerged Cathedral) and his wit in “Minstrels”. Her approach to Chopin's final Ballade was different than often heard. She had a hard and uncompromising approach which certainly did not suit the old Bluthner Grand Piano. It really showed its years of neglect in the heavier passages, as it did in the louder Debussy passages.

This recital was to replace the usual Christmas December Concert of H.M.S., so for her encore Sarah-Beth donned a Santa Clause hat and a tinsel scarf and played a special arrangement of “as many Christmas Carols as possible in a few minutes” challenging her audience to count how many were quoted. The winner received a copy of her latest CD; answer - 32 carols!! As you see, Sarah maintained her communication with the audience very well throughout the evening. Now we can look forward to the New Year, starting with the Aron String Quartet on Wednesday 6 th . February with a programme of Haydn, Korngold (think of Errol Flynn film music) and Schubert.


Report on the Vienna Piano Trio who performed at Hartlepool Music Society on Monday 10th March 2008 at Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre.

By Laurie Giles



Once again Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre was the venue for an excellent evening of music making. The Vienna Piano Tri formed in 1988 so they have been together for almost twenty years, although they had a change of ‘cellist in 2001. To have them in Hartlepool was an exciting event for music lovers. They simply have to be one of the most widely travelled group of chamber musicians on the concert circuit to-day. Mike Taylerson, programming Secretary of Hartlepool Music Society, did well to achieve this outstanding booking, and he must have been disappointed when he saw the small audience.

The Trio chose to play a completely Viennese programme from their home city. They began with the father of the piano trio – Haydn – his Trio 27 in E flat. Of course, the piano that Haydn knew was the lightly -constructed Viennese instrument that nowadays we call a “fortepiano”. His trios were not built for the powerful concert grand beasts that are in concert halls to-day. So, perhaps on occasion, the piano was a little heavy compared with the two strings. But these three movements were fine performances showing great style and (usually) balance with particularly effective rhythmic pointing, which was a feature of their work throughout the evening. They certainly demonstrated that sentence in Grove's Dictionary: “the intimacy of feeling, expressible through the subtleties of a team of combined solo players” which, it defines as the inner essence of classical chamber music. There was constant communication between the players and Haydn's Andantino sang along beautifully. The Finale (Presto assai) was taken at a spritely pace and rushed to its happy conclusion without stopping for breath, all three musicians working exceedingly nimble fingers.

Equally polished and musically mature was Beethoven's Trio in E flat Op1 No.1 and they chose effective tempi in all four movements. The Adagio cantabile slow movement was quite gorgeous and they took the Scherzo at high speed again with vigorous rhythms.

The major work of the evening filled the second half - Schubert's Trio in E flat written a few months before his death in 1828. This is a real masterwork and came across in this magnificent performance as a true jewel of the repertoire. Full of passionate drama and singing melodies throughout that could be no one but Schubert's, this was a stunning version that was only marred occasionally by an over-loud piano part. An evening of wonderful music that added further glory to the annals of Hartlepool Music Society. Let it long continue, but a word of warning: it can not survive too long without sizeable audiences.

Where are all the younger people of Hartlepool ? I do not believe that you are all the uncultured barbarians that many strangers assume populate the North East.



Report on the Piano Recital by Daniel de Borah who performed at Hartlepool Music Society on Wednesday 9th April 2008 at Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre.

By Laurie Giles



Hartlepool Music Society held its final concert of the season on Wednesday 9 th April at Hartlepool 's Town Hall Theatre. The visiting pianist was Daniel de Borah, a brilliant young man from Australia . He gave a challenging programme which was demanding for the pianist as well as the audience.

He opened with a piece by Beethoven that is rarely played these days: the Rondo in G which is a pretty piece, to ease the audience in to the main work of the first half. This was a powerful and impressive performance of Prokofiev's 8 th . Piano Sonata . One of Prokofiev's “wartime Sonatas”, completed in 1944. The opening movement began quite languorously pulling our attention in to its intensity. The work developed well to its Allegro moderato, where Mr.Borah demonstrated amazing dexterity of both hands. The middle, slow, movement was beautifully captured in all of its “dreamy” moods, The finale was full of rhythmic complexities and fascinating tonal changes and Daniel de Borah took full advantage of Prokofiev's changing moods, demonstrating his own control of the keyboard along the way..

The second half of the recital was built entirely from the works of Chopin, that Polish genius whose music is welcomed by discerning patrons at any concert. The brilliant but very subtle “Polonaise-Fantaisie” Op.61 began the feast, with an individual interpretation which emphasised the romanticism of Chopin as well as , at times the sheer power of his writing, and certainly his total originality. This was well expressed, too, in the three “Etudes” that Daniel chose - one from Op.10 and two from Op.25. Virtuoso stuff indeed, again emphasising the highly original lyrical qualities of Chopin's writing, even when dealing with piano “Studies”

The two Nocturnes of Op.61 followed which certainly melted the hearts of the audience. Then the grand finale was Chopin's “Scherzo No.4 in E major” Op.54. Another marvellous piece, full of romantic fantasy that is not played too often these days. This made it all the more welcome under the spell of Daniel de Borah's fingers.. He gave a deeply thoughtful interpretation, delicate and skittish in turn, and captivated the constantly attentive Hartlepool audience.

The enthusiastic applause called forth a short but delightful encore in the shape of a brief extract from Prokofiev's ballet “Romeo and Juliet”. and a wonderful evening of superb music making was enjoyed by everyone..

Even the great Stephen Hough waxed lyical about the Daniel de Borah's playing when he heard him elsewhere in the country. We can only join with such an accolade and congratulate Hartlepool Music Society. on another fine booking, indeed for an outstanding musical season altogether. . Long may they flourish!





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