FANGFEST, the celebration of pottery, crafts, art and scarecrows in Fangfoss, will return on September 4 and 5 after a Covid-enforced hiatus in 2020.
“We didn’t hold it last year but we carried out a questionnaire around the village to see what the residents thought about holding it this year,” says Lyn Grant, who co-organises the festival of practical arts with husband and fellow potter Gerry Grant in the village ten miles east of York.
“There were a few who didn’t want it to go ahead, but the majority did, and that’s why it’s back! The original idea of Fangfest was to try and get visitors to be involved and perhaps encourage them to pick up a craft or hobby. So, many of the exhibitors will be demonstrating and talking about their work with opportunities for people to have a go themselves.”
To keep Fangfest 2021 as Covid-safe as possible, much of the festival will take place outdoors. “At Fangfoss Pottery, at The Old School, we’re holding a ‘Play with Clay Zone’ in the pottery garden under gazebos, where visitors can have a go on the wheel, paint and decorate a little pot and make their own version of the ‘Lambton Worm’. These activities will be free,” says Lyn.
“Inside the pottery, we have re-organised things. For the first time in 46 years, Gerry will move his wheel to enable pottery-throwing demonstrations to take place safely. Outside, there’ll be raku-firing demonstrations.”
The weekend of art and crafts for all the family will combine art, pottery, illustration, jewellery, printmaking, archery, wood carving, textiles, willow weaving, classic cars, East Yorkshire history, food and scarecrows. Entry will be free.
An archaeology display spanning the Stone Age to Victorian times will be on show in St Martin’s Church, featuring artefacts found in the area, with some available to be handled, plus a “Guess the mystery objects” section. Outside the church, members of a history society from Stamford Bridge will discuss their work.
“Fangfoss residents will be showing just how artistic they are when it comes to making scarecrows and there’ll be a scarecrow trail around the village,” says Lyn. “That’s why you’re invited to make a Lambton Worm. Lambton and his worm are going to be my scarecrow this year.
“There’ll be plenty of art and crafts on display, spread around the village green and down at the Rocking Horse Shop in Main Street. Taking part will be willow workers, felt makers, medieval tilers, stained-glass workers and decorative forged-iron makers, to name but a few.
“At the Rocking Horse Shop, you can watch how rocking horses are made. Beyond the shop there’ll be an opportunity to have a go at archery. Look out too for a small classic car show on The Green.”
Refreshments will be available at the Carpenters Arms and the Jubilee Park Committee will host a barbecue and serve teas in the Rocking Horse yard.
Fangfest will run from 10am to 4pm each day and will be opened officially by Geoff Sheasby, Pocklington’s Town Crier for 20 years, on the Saturday. He will judge the scarecrows and award a special prize, although a public vote will be held too. Tony Dew will award the best “Fangs” prize.
OPEN-AIR cinema and myriad concerts, Proms and wild beasts affirm that summer is not yet over for Charles Hutchinson or for you.
Theatre one-off of the week outside York: Casey Jay Andrews in Every Wild Beast, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, tonight (19/8/2021) at 7.30pm
FRINGE First award-winning theatre-maker and storyteller Casey Jay Andrews weaves folklore and fable into her magical coming-of-age tale of courage, curiosity and running away from big scary things.
What happens? The stars are empty, the moon has fallen from the sky and the mountains are full of monsters, as Barri collects newspaper clippings and listens to vinyl in her grandmother’s attic, while Sam tries to outrun a community support officer investigating the murder of several domestic badgers.
“If you like your storytelling full of beauty, skill, fable and reality, this will be right up your alley,” says Theatre At The Mill programmer Alexander Wright. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.
Coastal concerts of the week: Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Nile Rodgers & Chic, tomorrow (20/8/2021); Keane, Saturday, gates open at 6pm
AFTER Stereophonics, Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club and Westlife, the Scarborough OAT summer season gathers still more pace by welcoming back Nile Rodgers & Chic, who first played there in 2018, tomorrow night.
Chic co-founder Rodgers and his band will be reactivating such dancefloor fillers as Le Freak, Good Times and Everybody Dance.
Saturday’s headliners, East Sussex chart-toppers Keane, drew a six-year hiatus to a close with their 2019 album Cause And Effect. The Sherlocks will be supporting. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.
Pomp and circumstance of the weekend: Castle Howard Proms, Castle Howard, Saturday (21/8/2021); gates, 5pm; concert, 7.30pm
YORKSHIRE’S own Forever Tenors, best friends Rob Durkin and Adam Lacey, are confirmed as the opening act at the Castle Howard Proms.
The classical crossover duo joins a bill featuring Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, alias Gio Compario off the telly, soprano Victoria Joyce and the London Gala Orchestra under the baton of Stephen Bell, plus a Spitfire flyover, lasers and a firework finale.
Castle Howard’s concert weekend opens with Café Mambo Ibiza’s sold-out show tomorrow (20/8/2021, gates, 4pm) and concludes with Queen Symphonic on Sunday, when Forever Tenors support again from 5pm. Box office: castlehoward.co.uk.
Film event of the week: The Luna Cinema at York Minster, August 24 to 29; doors, 6.45pm; screenings, 8.15pm
BAZ Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet opens five days of Luna Cinema open-air screenings against the backdrop of York Minster on Tuesday.
To follow will be the Elton John story, Rocketman, on Wednesday; The Greatest Showman on Thursday; Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, next Friday; Dirty Dancing next Saturday and Rian Johnson’s American mystery, Knives Out, next Sunday. Tickets are available from thelunacinema.com/york-minster2.
Theatre one-off of the week in York: LS6 Theatre in 90’s Kids Only and Life Below, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm
LS6 Theatre serve up a touring double bill of new theatre: writer-director Spike Woodley and Laurentz Valdes-Lea’s comedy-drama 90’s Kids Only and writer-director Dec Kelly’s gritty mining drama Life Below.
When did the universe begin? 1990. At least according to Ozzy and his friends in 90’s Kids Only, where what starts as a celebration of 1990s’ nostalgia ends in confusion, hysteria and the kidnapping of a beloved TV presenter.
In Life Below, Kelly chronicles two generations of a northern mining family that each had to endure treacherous conditions to stay alive. In 1984, Rosie Gooder fights for her community’s rights under the threat of Margaret Thatcher’s pit closures. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Magpies in twos: First a North Yorkshire festival, now a York gig for The Magpies next month
FRESH from hosting their sold-out first festival last Saturday at Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, contemporary roots trio The Magpies are off on a 16-date tour next month.
York guitarist, banjo-player and singer Bella Gaffney, clawhammer banjo player and singer Kate Griffinand fiddle-player and tunesmith Holly Brandon will be showcasing their June 2020 album, Tidings, and latest single I Will Never Marry, a traditional tale of lost love, handed down from woman to woman over the centuries.
Among the dates will be The Crescent, York, on September 10. Tour tickets are on sale at themagpiesmusic.com.
York exhibition of the week: Matt Bowden’s The Natural Landscape Of Yorkshire, City Screen, York, until September 11
FILM and television location manager and photographer Matt Bowden’s exhibition has re-opened at City Screen, York, after its Covid-enforced premature closure during lockdown.
“Growing up in North Yorkshire, with such natural beauty on my doorstep, meant it was almost inevitable I would develop an appreciation and interest in wildlife from an early age,” says Matt. “My grandfather Eric was a keen bird-watcher, often taking me to local nature reserves for days out, binoculars around our necks.
“But the desire to capture images of wildlife came to me relatively late in life, as my growing interest in photography through my job collided with the joy and fascination I found in the natural world that surrounded me.”
When is The Farewell Tour not the farewell tour? When Pyramus and Thisbe Productions revive Holmes and Watson next month
DOMINIC Goodwin thought he had called time on Stuart Fortey’s Holmes And Watson: The Farewell Tour in 2017, but now his double act with Julian Finnegan will have its miraculous Lazarus reawakening, on tour for 18 dates from September 3 to October 9.
Goodwin once more will play Dr Watson opposite Finnegan’s Sherlock Holmes in Kirkbymoorside company Pyramus and Thisbe Productions’ re-enactment of The Case of The Prime Minister, The Floozie and The Lummock Rock Lighthouse, an affair on whose outcome the security of Europe once hung by a thread.
For full details of a tour with 11 North and East Yorkshire performances, go to: pyramusandthisbeproductions.com
North York Moors Chamber Music Festival: La Belle Époque, Welburn Manor Marquee, August 10
NO fewer than 11 different musicians took part in what was essentially a song-recital by mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley, devoted to ‘mélodies’ – the French answer to the German Lied – whose heyday was that prosperous period of roughly 35 years up until the First World War.
Among the composers, we enjoyed a fascinating handful of lesser lights jostling with the likes of Debussy, Ravel and Chausson.
Huntley certainly knew her way around this repertory. When singing with piano accompaniment – provided by the keenly attentive James Baillieu – she quite properly used no score. She found pathos at the centre of Duparc’s L’invitation au voyage and sustained a lovely line against Baillieu’s rippling piano. Paladilhe’s Psyché made a pleasing miniature with the voice in a largely secondary role.
Her account of Debussy’s Trois chansons de Bilitis – who was supposedly an ancient Greek poetess but was in reality a fiction created by Pierre Louÿs and fooling many classicists – was equally fluent.
The semi-recitative of ‘La flute de Pan’ and the rueful reminiscence of ‘La chevelure’ was countered by more forceful momentum in ‘Le tombeau de Naïades’. Later we had shapely Chaminade, and Viardot’s Havanaise in operetta style, with Baillieu injecting witty habanera rhythms.
But the real treats came when she had an ensemble at her side. In Chausson’s Chanson perpetuelle, violin and viola sweetly in turn echoed the vocal line and the full piano quintet helped generate considerable intensity.
Even more of a pleasure was the chance to hear Ravel’s Chansons madécasses with the flute of Claire Wickes (doubling on piccolo), alongside Jamie Walton’s cello and Daniel Lebhardt’s piano. Here was intriguing scene-painting, impressionism with exotic ethnic tints. This group was notably well-knit.
A breath-taking finale came with violinist Benjamin Baker, barely off the plane from New York, in the concertante role in Chausson’s Poème, Op 25. The early elegiac mood turned gradually more upbeat, as Baker’s soaring cantilenas and dizzying arpeggios built towards a protracted final cadence that turned from minor to major at the last gasp. A quintet, led from the piano by Katya Apekisheva, lent energetic support. Another festival gem. But Huntley had played her part superbly too, setting the fin de siècle tone.
North York Moors Chamber Music Festival: Turning Points / A New Genre / Jubilee Quartet, Welburn Manor Marquee, August 13-15
ANOTHER day, (yet) another special occasion at this extraordinary festival. The programme was as big a draw as you could imagine, Mendelssohn’s Octet for strings, preceded by the penultimate of Mozart’s six string quintets, K.515 in C. For connoisseurs of chamber music for strings alone, it doesn’t get much better than that.
The Mendelssohn, the work of a 16-year-old, almost singlehandedly brings back the string orchestra into existence. It requires virtuosity from all eight players but especially from the top violinist.
The way Charlotte Scott filled this concertante role was nothing short of magnificent: determined, deliberate, dazzling and utterly focused. In a word, gutsy. But the inner voices emerged here with considerable clarity.
This was all the more remarkable since four seasoned professionals were joined here by the young Jubilee Quartet (with Julian Azkoul standing in for their injured leader). The youngsters were in no way overawed by the company they were keeping. Indeed, it may be that each group inspired the other to greater heights.
A few highlights will have to do duty for a performance that will live long in the memory. The unison wind-up into the return of the opening, following a pregnant piano passage, stood out in the first movement. The slow movement was a tenderly woven tapestry, its dark opening picked up more strongly later.
The scherzo, so often associated with the composer’s ‘fairy’ music began with wonderfully taut dance rhythms, but only turned really light-footed later, a pleasing surprise. The brisk tone of the fugal finale set by the cellos was imitated with equal panache all the way up the instruments, with Scott’s virtual moto perpetuo icing the cake. The whole was breath-taking, not least from an ensemble that had enjoyed so little time to coalesce.
It is not often the Mozart finds itself as the warm-up act, normally taking pride of place. But it set the bar high. Benjamin Baker, in decisive mood, was leader here. He engaged in delightful dialogues with both cello and first viola in the first two movements. The delicacy of the slow movement heightened the eventual contrast with the finale, which was taken at a terrific clip, but superbly survived by all five players alike.
It was prelude to a great weekend. On the Saturday, two of the great Romantic piano quintets framed the UK premiere of a work for the same forces by Albanian composer Thomas Simaku. ‘Con-ri-sonanza’ deliberately hovers rather than progresses, opening with plucked piano (Daniel Lebhardt leaning inside) heard against tremolo strings, with sudden intense interjections.
The tremolo becomes eerie, the interjections more strident, until a pregnant pause leads into a gentle piano phrase and an altogether more ethereal texture with high glissandos in the stings. The piano’s interruptions gradually subside, until the cello rises up the harmonic series from its C string. Mere description does not do justice to a piece that constantly intrigues – and delighted the house.
In the opening Allegro of Schumann’s Piano Quartet, it was to be expected that the second theme would emerge so gloriously from cello and viola – Brian O’Kane and Simon Tandree respectively.
More of a surprise was the marvellous contrast between the two melodies in the slow movement, with the rests in the ‘funeral march’ given full value as opposed to the creamy legato of the major-key tune that follows. Other little details tickled the fancy: the return to the trio in the Scherzo and the short gentle interlude in the otherwise boisterous finale, where the mildly fugal ending reached a thrilling climax.
Dvorak’s quintet appeared nearly half a century later and speaks powerfully of his roots in Bohemia, an aspect emphasised here. The ensemble was spearheaded by the redoubtable Charlotte Scott, neatly partnered (as so often at this festival) by Vicky Sayles, with Katya Apekisheva’s piano providing a consistently sensitive underlay.
Jamie Walton’s cello brought an elegiac touch to the start of the Dumka and its return on Meghan Cassidy’s viola was equally nostalgic, its triplets beautifully elongated. The Scherzo was notably snappy, and the finale ebbed and flowed lusciously, thanks to a very happy balance between piano and strings.
Sunday’s lunchtime event was one of the five devoted to Young Artists, with the Jubilee Quartet – such vital participants in the Mendelssohn Octet – returning on their own, with Julian Azkoul once again heroically standing in for their regular leader, who fractured a hand a few weeks ago. Haydn was in his seventies when he wrote his last quartet, Op 103 in D minor, leaving only its two middle movements completed. The Jubilee played them respectfully and immediately showed how well they communicate among themselves.
But what followed was of an entirely different magnitude. Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet, D.810, also in D minor, is a much-played work. I hardly expected a group this young to find new insights into it. I was wrong, utterly. Co-ordination was electric and attacks incredibly precise. All the group’s ideas emerged with total clarity, led by the four-note rhythmic motif that dominates the opening Allegro.
The song-theme of the title was enunciated without vibrato before some heart-stopping variations: the leader tinting in his comments to the first one, the cello ethereal in the second, the sense of dance in the third, and the little dotted rhythm from the inner voices in the fourth … I could go on. The ending here was serene, even cathartic. Azkoul’s passagework in the trio was silky-smooth in the middle of a properly jarring Scherzo.
In the finale, the Jubilees really went hell for leather, at a dangerously rapid tempo that yet never swerved out of control. Accents were firm and determined, teamwork everywhere shining confidently through.
On this evidence, the Jubilees are bound to go far – their enthusiasm is infectious, exactly what an audience loves. They owe a great debt to Azkoul’s smiling calmness under extreme pressure: he is a superb musician. But we must also wish their injured leader a full and speedy recovery, with all four returning to this festival as soon as may be.
MAGPIES and mermaids, Shakespeare’s wife and Scarborough romances, Boy George and a Bon Jovi tribute, Aretha & Patti and singer-songwriters at the quadruple are Charles Hutchinson’s tips for what to see.
Festival of the weekend: TheMagpies Festival of Music & Arts, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, Saturday, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm
SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park, hosted by The Magpies’ trio of Bella Gaffney, Kate Griffin and Holly Brandon in support of Women’s Aid.
Confirmed for this weekend’s folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies themselves; York musician Dan Webster; East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer; the duo Roswell and The People Versus.
Day tickets and camping tickets are available at themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets.
Tribute gig of the weekend: New Jovi: Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm
LIVIN’ off Livin’ On A Prayer, tribute act New Jovi seek to “bring back the on-stage chemistry and formidable stage presence of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in what was arguably the New Jersey band’s greatest era”. Arguably? Definitely.
Presented by Pit Bull Productions, Saturday night’s “completely live” set accommodates Always, You Give Love A Bad Name, Runaway, Bad Medicine and many more besides. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Gig of the week outside York: Boy George & Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Saturday, doors open at 6pm
EIGHTIES’ icon/iconoclast Boy George and Culture Club are off to the Yorkshire seaside this weekend.
Bexleyheath-born frontman, fashion innovator and DJ George O’Dowd, who turned 60 on June 14, will be performing alongside original band members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig in a “stunning live band”.
Expect to hear such New Romantic favourites as Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, fellow chart topper Karma Chameleon, Time (Clock Of The Heart) and Church Of The Poison Mind. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.
Where there’s a Will: Little Britches Theatre Company in Shakespeare’s Will, outside at Hearts of Ampleforth, Ampleforth, near Helmsley, Sunday, 2.30pm
NORTH Yorkshire duo Josie Campbell and Imogen Hope perform Vern Thiessen’s two-hander Shakespeare’s Will on Sunday, with afternoon tea thrown into the £15 ticket price for good measure.
In this one-hour, pop-up outdoor show about Anne Hathaway’s imagined life with, but mostly without, playwright William Shakespeare, teacher, theatre-maker, performer and erstwhile voiceover artist Josie plays Anne.
Theatre-maker, actor, musician and performing arts teacher Imogen takes the role of Actor-Musician. Tickets: from the café or on 01439 788166; cash only.
Holiday romance of the weekend: Scarbados, Northern Edge Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 3pm and 8pm
WELCOME to writer-director Sam Milnes’s new one-act comedy drama about love, life, grief, hope and fish & chips.
Tragic and comic in equal measure, Scarbados tracks six locals and holidaymakers who all go to the same seaside bar, where their lives intertwine in ways no-one expects.
Will Sharon have the chance of motherhood she so desperately craves? Will Jen and Alex have their romantic weekend? Can Ian overcome his long-time challenges? Will Vicky find her man? Who is the sixth character? Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Children’s show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 3pm
A MERMAID is an amazing gift for a young adventurer, but what do you do when it just will not stop growing? So asks York company Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, a new one-hour play written, produced and performed by Gemma Sharp for ages three to seven.
Joining Sharp’s Merry on stage will be Gemma’s husband, Andy Curry, the show’s composer, lyricist and musician in the role of the Sea King, and Thalassa, a puppet made by Sharp.
Sharp’s story of a chance meeting, an act of kindness and an unusual present, leading a lonely young girl on the most unexpected journey to find friendship, promises an epic adventure of mystery, magic, and mermaids. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.
Two into one will go: Patti Boulaye, Aretha & Me, Helmsley Arts Centre, September 18, 8pm
SINGER, musical theatre star, New Faces winner and teacher Dr Patti Boualye OBE is resuming her Aretha & Me tour travels, as well as her visiting teaching fellow role at Middlesex University.
In her one-woman but two-women show, British-Nigerian Patti, 67, compares and contrasts her life with that of the late American queen of soul.
Patti, whose updated autobiography The Faith Of A Child is published by Kaleidoscope Publishing this week, will combine Aretha’s Respect, I Say A Little Prayer, Natural Woman, Chain Of Fools and Think with her favourite songs. Box office: helmsleyarts.co.uk.
Four play: Dan Webster, Edwina Hayes, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham: Singer-Songwriter Showcase, Pocklington Arts Centre, September 23, 8pm
DAN Webster, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham, from York, are joined by Edwina Hayes, from the East Riding, for this all-Yorkshire bill.
Webster plays folk/Americana peppered with more than a dash of country, bluegrass and rock’n’roll; Burnell’s gigs take in stomping, acoustic singalongs, Bowie-style music-hall epics, alt.pop singles and traditional folk themes.
Gardham fuses pop, soul, blues and acoustic in her song-writing and has a belter of a voice equally at home in musical theatre; Irish-born Hayes crafts gentle folk-Americana songs. Box office: pocklingtonarts.co.uk or on 01759 301547.
North York Moors Chamber Music Festival: Rhapsody, Welburn Manor Marquee
THE best-kept secret in the music world is back in business. Not that it ever went away.
Last August, North York Moors Chamber Music Festival (NYMCMF) discovered it could align with current Covid regulations by staging events in an open-sided marquee at Welburn Manor.
It was a thunderous success, such that the same venue has been re-erected this year for almost all the events, which continue until August 21 (the three exceptions, Young Artists’ events, are in St Hilda’s West Cliff, Whitby).
You may also be wondering what “Rhapsody” implies. Uniquely, this festival does not announce its performers until just before each event. They are all seasoned performers combining a holiday on the Moors with chamber music (a change is as good as a rest, since many earn their living in orchestras).
Young Artists apart, no established ensembles play here. Hence the events only have titles. “Rhapsody” covered piano quartets by Brahms and Fauré.
Two completely different foursomes were on display this time. In Brahms’s Third Piano Quartet, in C minor, the pianist was Katya Apekisheva, who has been a mainstay of the festival for several years. Her counterpart in the second of Fauré’s two piano quartets, in G minor, was Daniel Lebhardt. Both did sterling work in quite different ways.
I mention them first, not because they are more important than the other players, but because the piano can easily predominate in this form of music, all but turning it into a concerto – with strings struggling to make an impression.
Neither quartet worked out like that. Apekisheva kept a firm hand on the tiller throughout the Brahms, making very little use of the pedal and keeping her textures crisp and clear. Charlotte Scott’s violin was a willing partner in her fierceness.
But the others made their voices heard too. The viola of Rosalind Ventris was notably appealing in the return of the second theme in the opening Allegro, as was Kate Gould’s cello in the slow movement, setting a mellow tone.
The piano’s insistent chatter in the finale became big and bold – but not over the top – when C major finally arrived, and there was a beautiful fade-out before the final two crashing chords.
The Fauré was equally thrilling. Of the two pieces, it is the more rhapsodic, roaming hither and yon after the opening unison statement of intent. The ensemble as a whole, keenly spearheaded by the violin of Johannes Marmen, underlined its adventurous melodies. Lebhardt’s whirling piano in the (second) scherzo movement, imitated in all the voices, turned into a harlequinade dictating a variety of moods.
The Adagio took a while to get into its stride – the otherwise steady viola of Bryony Gibson- Cornish might have been a touch more fragrant – but it settled into a lilting rhythm before the carillon began to ring out charmingly on the way to the ethereal, muted ending.
The rolling phrases of the final (third) Allegro Molto emerged especially pleasingly in the violin, with Jamie Walton’s pizzicato cello adding urgency. The composer’s first piano quartet has always enjoyed wider currency than this one. After such an exciting account, it is hard to understand why.
Review by Martin Dreyer
For more information on the festival, head to: northyorkmoorsfestival.com
Ryedale Festival Finale: Solem Quartet & Friends, Hovingham Hall, Hovingham, July 31
AFTER including four Schubert events over its opening weekend, Ryedale Festival closed with three substantial Schubert offerings over its final two days. His ever-popular Octet was the last event on this programme, following two pieces by the American composer Florence Price.
Alhough she died nearly 70 years ago, Price has only really come to prominence in the past decade, after the chance discovery of a cache of her scores. Summer Moon, composed in 1938, was among them. Its pastel shades are well adapted to string quartet and generated an elegiac aura.
Her variations on “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” proved equally appealing, evolving naturally and showing more than mere craftsmanship in their modulations. These tasters suggested that she deserves to be better known by British audiences.
So to the Schubert. The Solem’s first violin, Amy Tress, led the proceedings most effectively. The extra instruments – clarinet, bassoon, horn and double bass – added more than the expected resonance and took some adjustment: double bass and horn, although expertly handled, sounded boomy and over-exuberant respectively in the Allegro.
Things settled down, however, in the slow movement, which was allowed to breathe, with cool ensemble over the long dominant pedal and pregnant pauses before the coda.
Brio in the scherzo was nicely complemented by a smooth trio. In the succeeding variations, Stephanie Tress’s cello sang engagingly in the main melody and the whole ensemble ruminated gently thereafter. The minuet really danced and its trio had the lightness of a Viennese pastry.
In the finale, the return of the opening material might have been a touch more menacing, but the acceleration to the end was genuinely exciting. A fitting close to two deeply satisfying weeks: Christopher Glynn and his cohorts deserve the utmost praise for assembling them and in next to no time.
Ryedale Festival: Young Artist Day, Mishka Rushdie Momen, All Saints, Hovingham, July 30
SUPERLATIVES are always dangerous, but this morning event was one of the most satisfying piano recitals I have ever had the privilege of attending.
Partly it was the range of repertory covered in not much more than one hour: Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Ligeti and Schubert. But most of all it was the sheer brilliance of this young pianist, 30 years old next year, but showing the wisdom and musicality of one twice her age.
Mishka – she too, like others at this festival, will surely forever be recognisable by her first name alone – hinged her programme on fantasias by Mozart and Schubert, the one in C minor, the other in C major.
But she began with Bach’s C major Prelude and Fugue from Book I of The Well-tempered Clavier, a piece beloved of almost every would-be pianist. The prelude was impeccably smooth, whereas the fugue was notable for its unexpected drama.
In Mozart’s Fantasia, it was if there were an ogre prowling in the bass. Its first appearance was aggressive, but its anger gradually softened until it was tamed into a mere growl. Metaphors aside, Mishka drew marked but subtle contrasts between the work’s intense and melodic poles.
Schumann’s Impromptus On A Romance Of Clara Wieck takes a theme she had sent him and develops it into nine variations (in the revised version of 1850, ten years after they were married). Mishka did much more than merely highlight the two facets of Schumann’s character, poetic and impulsive, and she delivered an exceptionally tender postlude. It all made a pleasing interlude.
The fleeting magic of Ligeti’s Tenth Étude, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, was used as introduction to an unforgettable account of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy. John Warrack’s typically urbane programme-note referred to this as “a seminal masterpiece”. It is indeed an Everest of the repertoire, not lightly undertaken. That the whole piece, over an unbroken 20 minutes, is built around a dactylic rhythm makes it all the more remarkable, on a par with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and equally symphonic.
Mishka’s vision encompassed the whole work. She opened boldly, holding nothing back. So the second theme sounded all the more tender by contrast, a haven of peace before it was interrupted. She even made something of Schubert’s bridge – little more than a doodle, in truth – leading into the Adagio, which at first had the solemnity of a funeral march. As the bass became much more active, she still sustained a beautifully controlled line in the right hand.
The sheer theatre of the Scherzo was enhanced by the rapid downward ripples of her left hand, which were frankly breath-taking. The final fugue was sternly enunciated but still unfolded with incredible clarity.
By now hearts were in mouths at her Olympian virtuosity. With eyes closed, I would have sworn I was listening to Alfred Brendel with a feminine touch. And she still had enough left in the tank for an eloquent encore, which I took to be Schubert’s Hungarian melody in B minor. This young lady is thrillingly talented. Ryedale must have her back – soon.
GO forth and multiply the chance to see the summer spurt of theatre, musicals and outdoor shows, urges Charles Hutchinson, who also highlights big gig news for autumn and March 2022.
Breaking the library hush: Next Door But One in Operation Hummingbird, in York, today and August 12
YORK community arts collective Next Door But One are teaming up with Explore York for a library tour of Matt Harper-Harcastle’s 45-minute play Operation Hummingbird.
James Lewis Knight plays Jimmy and Matt Stradling, James, in a one-act two-hander that takes the form of a conversation across the decades about a sudden family death, realising an opportunity that we all wish we could do at some point in our life: to go back and talk to our younger self.
Today’s Covid-safe performances are at 3.30pm at New Earswick Folk Hall and 7pm, Dringhouses Library; August 12, York Explore, 2pm, and Hungate Reading Café, 7pm. Box office: nextdoorbutone.co.uk.
Play launch of the week outside York: Esk Valley Theatre in Shirley Valentine, Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, near Whitby, tonight until August 28
ESK Valley Theatre complete a hattrick of Willy Russell plays with Shirley Valentine from tonight, under the direction of artistic director Mark Stratton as usual.
In Russell’s one-woman show, Coronation Street star Ashley Hope Allan plays middle-aged, bored Liverpool housewife Shirley in a story of self-discovery as she takes a holiday to Greece with a friend, who promptly abandons her for a holiday romance. Left alone, Shirley meets charming taverna owner Costas. Box office: 01947 897587 or at eskvalleytheatre.co.uk.
Musical of the week outside Leeds, Heathers The Musical, Leeds Grand Theatre, tonight until August 14
HEATHERS The Musical launches its touring production in Leeds from tonight with choreography by Gary Lloyd, who choreographed the debut York Stage pantomime last Christmas.
Produced by Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills and directed by American screen and stage director Andy Fickman, this high-octane, dark-humoured rock musical is based on the Winona Ryder and Christian Slater cult teen movie.
The premise: Westerberg High pupil Veronica Sawyer (Rebecca Wickes) is just another nobody dreaming of a better day, until she joins the impossibly cruel Heathers, whereupon mysterious teen rebel JD (Simon Gordon) teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.co.uk.
Art event of the week: Ryedale Open Studios, Saturday and Sunday and next weekend, 10am to 5pm each day
THE newly formed Vault Arts Centre community interest company, in Kirkbymoorside, is coordinating this inaugural Ryedale Open Studios event, celebrating the creativity and artistic talent of Ryedale and the North York Moors.
Artists, makers and creators will be offering both an exclusive glimpse into their workplaces and the opportunity to buy art works directly. Full details of all 33 artists can be found at ryedaleopenstudios.com; a downloadable map at ryedaleopenstudios.com/map.
Hit and myth show of the week: Eurydice, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, Saturday and Sunday, 7.30pm
THIS weekend, Serena Manteghi returns to the play she helped to create with writer Alexander Wright, composer Phil Grainger and fellow performer Casey Jane Andrews with Fringe award-winning success in Australia in 2019.
Manteghi, a tour de force in the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Build A Rocket, will be joined by Grainger for the tale about being a daily superhero and not giving in to the stories we tell ourselves.
Woven from spoken word and soaring live music, Eurydice is the stand-alone sister show to Orpheus; her untold story imagined and reimagined for the modern-day and told from her perspective. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/.
Yorkshire gig of the week outside York: Kaiser Chiefs, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Sunday, gates open at 6pm
LEEDS lads Kaiser Chiefs promise a “no-holds-barred rock’n’roll celebration” on their much-requested return to Scarborough OAT after their May 27 2017 debut.
“We cannot wait to get back to playing live shows again and it will be great to return to this stunning Yorkshire venue,” says frontman Ricky Wilson. “We had a cracking night there in 2017, so roll on August 8!”
Expect a Sunday night of such Yorkshire anthems as Oh My God, I Predict A Riot, Everyday I Love You Less And Less, Ruby, Never Miss A Beat and Hole In My Soul. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.
Comedy gig announcement of the week: Simon Amstell, Spirit Hole, Grand Opera House, York, September 25, 8pm
INTROSPECTIVE, abjectly honest comedian Simon Amstell will play the Grand Opera House, York, for the first time since 2012 on his 38-date Spirit Hole autumn tour.
Agent provocateur Amstell, 41, will deliver a “blissful, spiritual, sensational exploration of love, sex, shame mushrooms and more” on a tour with further Yorkshire gigs at The Leadmill, Sheffield, on September 12 and Leeds Town Hall on October 1.
York tickets are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/; York, Sheffield and Leeds at ticketmaster.com.
York gig announcement of the week: Joe Jackson, York Barbican, March 17 2022
JOE Jackson will play York for only the second time in his 43-year career on his Sing, You Sinners! tour next year.
Jackson, who turns 67 on August 11, will perform both solo and with a band at York Barbican in the only Yorkshire show of his 29-date British and European tour, promising hits and new material.
“We’ve been dealing with two viruses over the past two years, and the worst – the one we really need to put behind us – is Fear,” he says. “Love is the opposite of fear, so if you love live music, come out and support it!” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Ryedale Festival: Tenebrae, Renaissance Glories, Ampleforth Abbey, July 29
TENEBRAE is observing its 20th anniversary this year and no doubt relishing the opportunity for a real celebration at last.
Nigel Short’s crack choir, here numbering 11 singers, chose music of mourning from the heart of the Renaissance: from Spain, Tomás Luis de Victoria and his slightly younger contemporary Alonso Lobo, with Gregorio Allegri’s incomparable Miserere representing Italy of a generation later.
Lobo’s six-voice Versa Est In Luctum (‘My harp is tuned to mourning’) is one of the most moving motets of the period. Its prayerful progression from full-on minor, almost wallowing in self-pity, to something approaching the major key and positivity, speaks of hope finding a way out of adversity. Certainly Tenebrae managed this transition with smooth conviction.
Allegri’s Miserere is a setting of Psalm 51. For it to build up the necessary tension before its sacrificial dénouement, it demands to be sung in its entirety. Sadly, on this occasion, it was limited to a mere three of the famous high Cs, plus the epilogue.
No doubt it was thought that the complete work would make the concert too long, given that there was to be no interval. It seemed to finish just as it was getting going, although it was clean enough. But an alternative work would have been preferable.
By far the evening’s most substantial piece was Victoria’s Requiem Mass. It was a surprise, although perfectly acceptable, that all the plainsong incipits were sung by female voices. Nigel Short paid immense attention to detail throughout.
In the Introit, where the sopranos spend a good deal of time on the dominant (the fifth note of the scale), he developed a notable urgency in the inner voices. He was also at pains to differentiate the varied entries in the Kyrie. In the Offertory, perhaps the most purely Spanish-sounding of all the sections, he dissolved tension with several melting cadences.
During the Sanctus and Benedictus the voices sounded as if three times their actual number, although tuning remained impeccable and ensemble shapely. In the final section, Lux Aeterna, Short picked out the phrase ‘quia pius es’ (translated here as ‘because thou art merciful’) for special treatment, while building up the overall intensity.
It would have been a masterful performance, but for one shortcoming: the diction. Words were rarely anywhere close to clear enough. The same problem afflicted the extraordinary encore, a setting of Flanders & Swann’s Slow Train – which really had no place here.
Some of its stations were apparently localised, but they disappeared without trace, under-projected. A lively Byrd motet might have been more appropriate. Even so, Tenebrae remains one of the best in the business.