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Knighton and District Concert Society

Patron - Sir Robert Green-Price Bt.

President - Graham Trew MVO

Vice President - Lord Berkeley CBE

Concert Reviews 2017 - 2018 Season


Val Welbanks - cello                        Helen Vidovich - flute          

Guest pianist - Olga Stezhko

At the first concert of the new season members welcomed three female members of the Marsyas Trio formed in 2009 to perform music from classical to the present written for their instruments flute, cello and piano.  Three out of the four composers featured at the concert achieved great success in their careers in England.  The fourth composer is a contemporary lady Welsh born and now living in the USA. 

     Clementi (1752 - 1837) Born in Rome, at the age of 14 Clementi was sponsored by a wealthy English patron and spent most of his successful career in England and was honoured by being buried in Westminster Abbey.  Our opening item was his Sonata Op 21 no.3 a lively and excellent  piece which proved as popular in Knighton as it had been for his usual clientele of aristocratic audiences in their salons. 

     Eugene Goossens (1893 - 1967) Born in London of Belgian descent, Goossens studied at Bruges Conservatoire until the age of 14 when he arrived in London to take up a scholarship at the Royal College of Music.  A member of a famous talented family of musicians, he had a successful and wide-ranging career and was knighted for his services to music.  His work "Five Impressions of a holiday" which was the second item on our programme skilfully illustrated the changing moods of French rustic life.   ​

  The last item before the interval was a piece by a contemporary Welsh composer Hilary Tann (B. 1947)  We had the pleasure of hearing her work "Theatre of Air" which was commissioned by the Marsyas Trio earlier this year.  This sensitive piece evoked musically the birdsongs of different birds and tested our skills on birdsong while extending the rural mood of the previous Goossens composition.

   Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 47)  Born in Germany Mendelssohn was a child prodigy and composed from an early age including at 17 the overture to "Midsummer Night's Dream".  Mendelssohn became very popular in England and was a favourite of Queen Victoria's.  His Trio No. 1, rated one of his greatest works, brought our concert to a triumphant end as the enthusiasm and skill of the artists was infectious and we were all swept along in the superb performance and the enthusiastic applause showed how much everyone had enjoyed the whole concert.  Before the performers left, we heard of their plans for a new CD next year featuring works of women composers to mark the centenary of Women's Suffrage.  The world of classical music has slowly featured more women players and composers but there is still a long way to go.  We all felt sure the members of the Marsyas Trio would promote the cause quietly and we all look forward to welcoming them back to perform for us again.


Sunday 23 October 2017

Our Society often engages highly gifted students at the end of their training to help begin their careers.  In November we were privileged to welcome two young professionals who are already well established in the musical world, Marta Fontanals-Simmons, mezzo-soprano, accompanied on the piano by Ricardo Gasalbo.  The theme of the concert was a programme of music either written or inspired by women who were the muses of their composer partners. 

   The musical items were written by composers from all over the world in varied styles and tempos and our gifted  musicians gave exciting interpretations of works from many countries so the audience soon realised how privileged we were to hear a very varied programme handled in such a professional way.  Marta also has a flair for languages and was comfortable singing in French, German and Spanish and her accompanist handled many accompaniments which many pianists would have found daunting with competence and ease. The combination of voice and piano was truly impressive.  We learned in the interval how both Marta and Ricardo who first met as students at the Guildhall School of Music have recently been awarded well-deserved awards. 


   After such an impressive programme so well performed we would like to wish them both continued success in their careers and I am sure we shall be hearing more of them in the future. 


Sunday 26 November 2017


Marta Fontanals-Simmons

Mezzo soprano


Ricardo Gosalbo  Piano

For the January concert members were pleased to welcome for the first time the five talented soloists who make up the New British Winds.  The ensemble was formed when the members were students at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.  The group consists of Jemma Freestone on flute and piccolo, Sam Baxter on oboe, Tom Taffender on horn, Gareth Humphreys on Bassoon and Greg Hearle on Clarinet.  From the very start of the concert their skill, enthusiasm and enjoyment was communicated to the audience who soon realised they were in for a musical feast.

The programme was skilfully devised to show up all the instruments at their best and consisted of some old favourites like items from Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite" and Rossini's overture to "The Barber of Seville" and a wide variety of lesser known works and every item was brilliantly orchestrated to display the talents of all members of the quintet in the best possible way.  The Rossini overture illustrated this really well as the main themes passed easily from instrument to instrument and the smooth background was maintained throughout whoever had the solo spot.  This is no mean feat for soloists but they all appeared to enjoy taking turns at being in the limelight although they are  used to performing as soloists.  

The concert passed all too quickly but everyone seemed to have been really thrilled with such a lively concert and I am sure all members would like to wish the five musicians successful careers as soloists and also express the hope that we might be able to welcome them back to Knighton in the future.  To your correspondent they were like Dumas's heroes the Musketeers as these five talented young musicians epitomised their motto "All for one and one for All."


Sunday 28 January 2018

Roth Guitar Duo

On a chilly February afternoon an excellent audience welcomed for their second visit Sam Rodwell and Emma Smith of the Roth Guitar Duo who began performing together while studying at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Their varied programme of guitar pieces by composers from all over the world, including  surprisingly "Bad Boy" a haunting and sensitive composition by a Japanese composer, illustrated the wide range of music for guitars and the great skill and versatility of the guitarists.  The first part of the programme was devoted to a swift musical journey when the audience sampled the varied themes and tempi gathered from many countries of the world.  To end the first half Emma gave excellent performances of two compositions beginning with Tedesco's Variations through the Centuries  with styles from the Baroque era followed by examples from the Romantic age and The Fox Trot section with its jazz rhythms.  Emma gave a very skilful and sensitive performance of all these different styles.  Her second solo was Songe Capricorne by the French composer Roland Dyens, who commented on this composition "Here bells ring out, arpeggios and harmonics cascade like waterfalls, all blending in an evocation of the harp" which sums up exactly the joyful and skilled interpretation given by Emma  which delighted the audience.

After the interval the concert continued with two solo performances by Sam beginning with his thrilling interpretation of Legnani's Fantasia Op.19 (Largo in A minor and Allegro in A major) which displayed the composer's brilliance with moving contrasts illustrating the different feel of a minor and major key.  For a complete contrast his next solo was Labyrinth by Welsh composer Stephen Goss, in which the performer is encouraged to make creative interpretive decisions.  The twists and turns of the music explained the title and the audience was amazed to hear that there are 39,916,800 possible orderings of the eleven sections. Sam coped ably with it all and gave a splendid version of a unique composition.  The rest of the programme included "Bad Boy" from Japan,  a piece written by an Australian composer Westlake and other exciting guitar compositions with as a finale a rousing performance of Manuel de Falla's foot-tapping favourite the Danza Espanola No.1 La Vida Breva.  The whole programme delighted the audience and they all went home feeling they had learned a lot about the possibilities of guitar music especially as performed by our talented duo.   


Performance included works by Astor Piazzolla, Sergio Assad, Manuel de Falla, Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu, Radames Gnattali, Paul Hindemith, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Roland Dyens, Stephen Goss and Luigi Legnani.

Sunday 25 February 2018



Lydia Griffiths

Accompanied by

 Yshani Perinpanayagam

on the piano

Lydia Griffiths

The final concert of our 2017/2018 season offered us a real feast for the ears.  The mix of courses tempted us with music from the Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist, modern and experimental avant garde eras.  Lydia, a supreme artiste on her instrument, gave us a master class of playing, switching easily between styles, always conveying the composer’s emotional intentions.

She started with the first two movements from the Sonata in G minor by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, J.S. Bach’s second eldest surviving son. This  immediately let us know that we were in safe hands and in for a wonderful afternoon.  The precision, phrasing and technique in the performance brought this Baroque/Classical era music from the 18th century Court straight into our 21st century Church Hall.

This was followed by one of Robert Schumann’s Romances, written as a Christmas present for his wife, Clara.  Yshani, Lydia’s accompanist, sympathetically brought the piece brilliantly to an homogenous whole so we didn’t know whether we should be listening to oboe or piano.

Yshani then played three solo piano pieces by Claude Debussy; Minstrels, The Little shepherd and La Puerto Del Vino.  As soloist and chamber player, she excelled in conveying the mood and spirit of each of the vignettes and deservedly acknowledged her plaudits from our audience.

Lydia rejoined Yshani to finish the first half with two movements from Francis Poulenc’s Oboe Sonata and once again showed her mastery of her instrument in a faultless rendition of the work.

After the interval Lydia swapped her oboe for the cor anglais which offers a deeper, more plangent tone, for Sonata X by Robert Valentine (1671-1747). The four movements were beautifully played and it was a joy to watch the non-verbal communication between soloist and accompanist needed to hold any piece together.  We only learned later that this was the first time Lydia and Yshani had worked together, and judging by the success of the partnership I hope that this is the start of a long and fruitful collaboration.

This was followed by three movements from a work by Ernst Krenek (1900-1991), an Austrian composer whose work was banned by the Nazis in 1933, labelling it Entartete Musik (Degenerate music).  Yshani took time to explain that this experimental piece was an improvisation with a limited written score.  It employed various means of making music including springing the pedals of the piano to double trilling on the oboe, both techniques demonstrated.  Very interesting, a difficult listen, but very worthwhile to see both players tackling difficult and unusual techniques with aplomb, and well received by our audience.

Then back to the safety of Ralph Vaughan Williams for three studies on English Folk Songs; Lovely on the water, Spurn Point and As I walked over London Bridge, all beautifully played on the cor anglais.

This wonderful concert ended with the Saint-Saens Sonata Op. 116., tuneful and exhilarating.

The rousing ovation from our appreciative audience let both performers know that their combined efforts left us with that ”feel good “ factor and provided a brilliant end to an excellent series of concerts.

Peter Clements, Chairman

Sunday 25 March 2018