Audience member reviews Amersham Festival of Music’s first concert on Friday October 17 at St Mary’s Church
THE start of the autumn/winter season of the Amersham Festival of Music was once again held in the beautiful ancient church of St Mary’s in Old Amersham, with a concert of Baroque masterpieces.
Starting off, we heard Handel’s Organ Concerto in G (Op.4 No.1). Apparently he wrote his organ concertos to provide entertainment during performances of his oratorios.
Iain Ledingham played the organ, as well as directing the orchestra.
Next came JS Bach’s Cantata No.170 Vergnugte Ruh. Mezzo-soprano Anna Harvey joined the orchestra for this superb cantata, which is Bach’s greatest work for the alto voice, with a deeply inspired meditation on this world and the next. It is beautifully scored for strings, oboe and solo organ, lifting our spirits and taking us through to the exuberant final aria.
Taking us into the interval was Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto in D major. Here the soloist was the award-winning virtuoso flautist Jennifer Stinton, also a member of Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra. It was beautifully played from the joyous opening through to the final allegro with its vivacious, witty and charming Goldfinch effects in the flute writing.
The audience was entranced by the performance and possibly wondered if the evening could get any better.
Well yes it did, starting off the second half with another Handel Organ Concerto, this one in F (Op.4 No.4).
This is one of Handel’s most substantial concertos and requires considerable dexterity on the part of the soloist – once again played by the charismatic Iain Ledingham.
Next we heard, also from Handel, the aria ‘Dopo Notte’ from Ariodante, with Ann Harvey again soloist joining the orchestra. You could have heard a pin drop as we all held our breath, it was so beautifully sung. This piece was very well received and the audience applauded loudly.
The concert ended JS Bach’s Suite No.2 in B Minor for Flute and Strings. Once again Jennifer Stinton joined the orchestra in this delicate, sensuous music. The audience was mesmerised throughout the piece which ended with a sparkling virtuosic solo. Once again the audience broke into loud applause.
The entire concert was of a very professional and high standard. The orchestra played extremely well, taking in all the emotions of the pieces, with the soloists following the same high standard, and with, of course, their charismatic maestro, whose knowledge of music and his enthusiasm carries everyone with it, including the audience.
There was never any doubt that it was going be a wonderful concert, thanks to all involved. As always, it was a privilege to have been in the audience.
Sometimes, when listening to the performance, you forget you are in Amersham, and not some bigger concert venue.
The next concert is on Friday, December 5.
Tickets are available from the box office – call 01494 876 465.
12A Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Karl Johnson, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville, Sandy Foster, Amy Dawson, Nicholas Jones, James Fleet
Mike Leigh cast Timothy Spall two years before filming started, during which time the actor learned how to paint
Timothy Spall with Marion Bailey (Sophia Booth)