Fringe Classical

Miranda Heggie

Bach For Breakfast

Royal Overseas League

Three stars


Royal Overseas League

Four stars

Music of the Stuarts

St Andrew’s and St George’s West

Three stars

KICKING off the 17th annual Music and More series, and the first under the Royal Over-Seas League’s new Director of Arts Geoff Parkin, with an early morning dose of baroque music, the first Bach for Breakfast concert opened not with Bach but with Handel. Accompanied on piano by Somi Kim, Australian tenor Damien Arnold sang Where’er You Walk from Handel’s oratorio Semele with a resplendent voice, a feat made all the more impressive given the 9.30am start. He was followed by violinist Michael Foyle, whose wonderfully expressive solo violin playing in the Largo and Allegro assai movements from Bach’s Sonata no 3 in C major exuded a sparky energy. Accompanied again by Kim, Bach’s Violin Sonata no 3 in E major had an infectious, playful quality, with a perfect balance between the two instruments. The highlight of the morning was Foyle’s stirring performance of the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita for violin no. 2 in D minor. Again, written for the solo instrument, Foyle highlighted the distinct individual voices in the piece, with some real virtuosic playing.

Bach for Breakfast runs to August 26

NOCTURNAL, a late night recital of music by ancient and modern English composers given by Edinburgh born guitarist Sean Shibe had a different mood entirely, with Shibe beautifully expressing the tender sadness in John Dowland’s Forlorn Hope Fancy with a subtle rubato, enjoying the music’s dissonances. Shibe’s insightful introduction to the next piece, Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy Op. 107, drew interesting comparisons between the two composers despite nearly 4 centuries between them, and indeed, Arnold’s jazz infused harmonies and additions of certain ‘blue’ notes to the piece lends a certain strand of melancholy so prevalent to Dowland’s music.

Giving the programme a cyclical nature, Shibe ended with Benjamin Britten’s only work for solo guitar, Nocturnal after John Dowland. With a meditative opening, Shibe’s interpretation of the piece showed a deep musical understanding of both these composers. He showed remarkable dexterity in his playing, with impossibly light yet precise fingering, as he gave the piece a driven, uneasy sense of urgency, before bringing it to a peaceful conclusion.

ROSL Lates runs to August 25

DOWLAND was the main focus for the first of a set of two concerts to mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary given by countertenor James Laing, lutenist James Akers and bass violist Susanna Pell at St Andrew’s and St George’s West. With a somewhat dignified take on Dowland’s sorrowful music, Laing’s countertenor had a gentle warmth, singing Dowland’s melodies with expert annunciation and supple ornamentation, with sensitive accompaniment from Pell and Akers. Interspersed with solo lute pieces, Akers’ nimble playing showed the intricacies of the music as he subtly shifted the moods and tempi of the music.