A short film summarising the success of this year’s inaugural chamber music festival at the Rathfinny Wine Estate and looking forward to next year’s event.
Conchord at Rathfinny, 2015: a short film
The Music Festival we heard about on the Grapevine
Rhythm of Silence – inspired by Virginia Woolf and Benjamin Britten – world premiere
Rhythm of Silence, co-commissioned by The Charleston Trust and Rathfinny Wine Estate, will be given its world premiere performance at Charleston Festival this Sunday. This incredibly exciting new performance piece blurs the boundaries between literature and music; inspired by Virginia Woolf and Benjamin Britten and written and devised by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, the work draws on Woolf’s assertion that The Waves was written ‘to a rhythm, and not to a plot’.
Emily Pailthorpe – Artistic Director of ‘Conchord at Rathfinny’ where Rhythm of Silence will also be performed (13th June) – explains:
Virginia Woolf pushed against the conventional boundaries of writing; she experimented and imagined new artistic form. In a diary entry of Feb 21st, 1927 she writes:
“Why not invent a new kind of play – as for instance
I think it must be something in this line- though I cannot now see what. Away from facts; free; yet concentrated; prose yet poetry; a novel & a play.”
In Rhythm of Silence, players of London Conchord Ensemble are joined by actors from Action to The Word to bring Woolf’s vision (of new artistic form) to life in a daring and thought-provoking performance piece. Rhythm of Silence is a musical and physical exploration of the power of silence and solitude vs the claustrophobia of repetitive work and “polite” society and inhabits the world between music and language. Incorporating themes from ‘The Waves’, writings from Virginia and Leonard Woolfs’ diaries, readings by Juliet Stevenson and a complete performance of Benjamin Britten’s haunting Phantasy Quartet (written within a year of ‘The Waves’), this ground-breaking new co-commission by Charleston Festival and Rathfinny Wine Estate premieres on May 24 at 8pm at Charleston Festival.
Led by Artistic Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones, Action To The Word deliver dynamic, exciting and shocking theatre from new musicals to electrifying adaptations of classics.
“They’re young, they’re fit, they’re beautiful. They have the grace of dancers and the power of athletes … nothing short of brilliant.” Subiaco Post
A Feast of Chamber Music at The Winery, Rathfinny Vineyard
On June 11th 2014, Conchord launched their association with Rathfinny Estate when they presented a Gala Evening of wine and music by Pierne, Beethoven, Elgar and Schubert to celebrate the first of many musical evenings at the Winery.
Rathfinny Farm is nestled in the beautiful Cradle valley, near the village of Alfriston in Sussex. The Rathfinny estate began its transformation into one of the largest vineyards in Europe in October 2010, when it was bought by Mark and Sarah Driver. Now, the Drivers have planted more than 210,000 vines on their 64 hectares, and have plans to plant more over the next six years. They aim to produce nearly a million bottles of Sussex sparkling wine per year.
The combination of fine music, fine wine and stunning views of the downs in the summer evening light proved irresistible. The audience was delighted, and Conchord’s reception confirmed plans to launch a 3-day festival in June 2015. The festival will begin on the evening of Friday 12th June and continue until the afternoon of Sunday 14th June. Put the dates in your diary now! Further details will be posted on the website nearer the time.
Concert, BBC Proms Chamber Music Series
We are playing a mixed programme of English and French repertoire in the BBC Proms Chamber Music Series at the Cadogan Hall on Monday 19 August at 1.00 pm. The centrepiece of the programme is a great but rarely heard work by Peter Warlock – “The Curlew” – settings of Yeats poems for tenor, flute, cor anglais and string quartet. The settings are dark, sometimes almost expressionistic – they’re a fascinating mix of Delius and something more modern and tougher. They remind one that Peter Warlock wrote the first English biography of Schoenberg. We are performing “The Curlew” with tenor Robin Tritschler. The concert is being broadcast live on Radio 3 and streamed on TV through the BBC iplayer.
Concert, Cheltenham Festival
As part of our Tenth Birthday Tour we appeared in the Cheltenham Festival in July as the final concert of the Festival. We a played a programme of the Mozart and Beethoven Quintets for Piano and Wind, the Poulenc Sextet and Barber’s Summer Music. We’ve performed the Summer Music in lots of cold wintery places, so it was a nice change to play it on a glorious hot summer morning in Cheltenham!
Recording the next CD in series for Champs Hill, double CD of works from Vienna
Our latest project for Champs Hill Records is a double disc of mixed chamber music for wind, strings and piano from Vienna. We have had the idea of juxtaposing the great mixed chamber music of Mozart and Beethoven with the Second Viennese School. The first disc (which has already been recorded) will comprise Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds K 452, Beethoven’s Quintet for Piano and Winds op.16 (which was explicitly modelled on Mozart’s), and the first great trio for mixed wind/strings/piano, Mozart’s Trio K 498 “Kegelstatt” for clarinet, viola and piano. The second disc, to be recorded in 2014, will include Webern’s arrangement of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony for the “Pierrot” line up (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano) – a brilliant arrangement of an extraordinary and supercharged piece, which stands at the crossroads between late Romanticism and atonality. It will also include the “Adagio” from Berg’s Chamber Concerto in his own arrangement for violin, clarinet and piano, Zemlinsky’s Clarinet Trio, and Webern’s Concerto op.24 for nine instruments.
Concert, Wigmore Hall Chamber Music Series
We celebrated our tenth birthday with a concert in the Wigmore Hall’s Chamber Music Series on 20 October 2012. The programme was a central European one. The first half comprised Janacek’s “Mladi” (or “Youth”) for wind sextet – an extraordinarily youthful piece from a composer of 70! – and Dvorak’s Piano Quartet no.2 in Eb major. The second half was Brahms’ Clarinet Trio op.114 – a piece that we’ve played many times over the years, and that stands at the core of the repertoire for mixed wind, strings and piano.
Release of Bach Flute Works on CD
Conchord flautist, Daniel Pailthorpe alongside Conchord pianist, Julian Milford, released a CD of Bach flute works on the Champs Hill Label. Pailthorpe writes” From the substantial body of solo flute music purporting to be by J.S. Bach, a relatively small amount can definitely be attributed to him; the four works on this disc form the majority of what is now known to be by the great man himself.” One of the few orchestral principals of international standing who plays on a wooden flute, Daniel’s unique approach to the instrument and this repertoire received critical acclaim.
‘Thank you, Daniel, Julian, and London Conchord members, for restoring my faith in humanity. When I need it again, I shall return to this…with tissues just in case.’
© 2012 American Record Guide
Release of complete chamber works of Francis Poulenc on CD
In early 2012 we released a double disc of Poulenc’s Chamber Music on Champs Hill Records. The project had been a long time in the making – we recorded the Sextet, Trio and wind sonatas several years ago, and had later decided to put them together with the string sonatas, and the remaining works for chamber ensemble, which include some rarely-heard gems (such as the wonderful sonata for two clarinets).
Concert, BBC Radio 3 lunchtime series, Wigmore Hall
Our concert in the BBC’s 2012 programme of live concerts from the Wigmore Hall at Monday lunchtime focused upon the wind players in the group. It opened with Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano and Winds, and closed with Beethoven’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. In between was a lesser-known piece, which also happens to be Mozart’s last chamber work – the Adagio and Rondo for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola and cello K 612. The glass harmonica part must have been extraordinarily difficult to play on the instrument – it was written for a well-known blind virtuoso of the day – but transposes very well to the piano as a mini piano concerto. The piece’s clarity and serenity is reminiscent of “The Magic Flute”, with which it is roughly contemporary.
Concert, Library of Congress, Washington DC
We made our second trip to the USA to perform in the Library of Congress Chamber Series in Washington DC. The programme featured two Elizabeth Sprague-Cooldige comissions: Poulenc’s Flute Sonata (which earned a standing ovation!) and a quartet by Frank Bridge. It was a real pleasure to be part of this historic series.