Au­di­ence mem­ber reviews Amer­sham Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic’s first con­cert on Fri­day Oc­to­ber 17 at St Mary’s Church

Kay John­son

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

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)

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