What’s On In May?

A little late getting going with this but here you go:

Top of the list for May has to be the Brighton Festival’s Glyndebourne recital by Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.  (Watch my lips, now: it’s life óvah áhns-ness). Amazingly, Andsnes made his debut in Oslo way back in 1987 and is just now becoming a major presence here and in America. His Wikipedia page shows a list of awards and a discography long enough to wear out your scroll wheel.

Andsnes is a great champion of fellow countryman, Edvard Grieg and every bit the showman.  In 2007 he celebrated the composer’s 164th birthday with a Norwegian television documentary, and during it they airlifted a grand piano up a mountain so Andsnes could play Grieg’s fiendish Ballade in G Minor at the summit. His playing is often edgy and electric.

The Glyndebourne programme is two Beethoven sonatas, Brahms’ Ballads, Op. 10 and Schoenberg’s Sechs kleine klavierstucke Op. 19. This is a don’t miss.

15th May at 3pm – Glyndebourne Opera House – Tickets are £12.50, £22.50, £27.50, £32.50

You should also try to catch the Kantanti Ensemble on the 7th, as hearing young talent of this calibre in the intimate environs of St John Sub Castro is sure to be inspirational.  By the time you read this they will already have given their April performance of Bach’s St John Passion.  They are an ambitious group of musicians.

This concert features tenor Nick Allen with pianist Claire Stevens and the Kantanti Soloists String Ensemble.  Suffolk-born Nick Allen is in his fourth year at the Guildhall and is already well-steeped in oratorio repertoire.  He was Kantanti’s tenor soloist in their Mozart Requiem and will perform the title role in Handel’s Judas Maccabeus with the Beccles Choral Society later this month. There is a wide musical range on offer here including arias from Handel’s Messiah, Wolf’s Mörike Lieder and Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

7th May at 7:30pm at St John Sub Castro, Lewes – Tickets £5 – www.kantanti.com

Hearing the Mosaic Ensemble in tiny Westgate Chapel should prove absolute ear candy. With a remit to explore the varied repertoire of mixed winds and strings, Mosaic was formed in 2009 from players of the Southbank Sinfonia. In this programme the 18th and 20th centuries will meet in interesting ways, beginning with Bohuslav Martinu’s Nonet. This 1959 work, which was inspired by music of the Czech countryside and ol’ Papa Haydn, is a fascinating glimpse into a contemporary composer’s vision of the past. The music is vivacious and optimistic.

Followed by Sir Arthur Bliss’s 1921 Conversations for violin, viola, cello and flute––this wonderful bit of period programme music quite brilliantly builds from droning, almost monotonous beginnings to the chaos and cacophony of the Oxford Circus tube at its end.

Being massaged by Schubert’s Octet after the interval should sooth all jangling nerves.  Composed in 1824, it is the largest and most ambitious of Schubert’s chamber works and nothing less than captivating from the magical opening chord onward.

26 May at 7:30pm, Westgate Chapel, 92a High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XH, tickets are £8 / 6 on the door.

by Paul Austin Kelly


This article was first published in the May issue of Viva Lewes magazine.

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