We are devastated to announce that our dear friend Wendy died on 24th October, peacefully, at home. We owe her so much as a friend, a colleague, and guiding light of MDD and we will miss her deeply.
A damp, dank December afternoon at Holme Pierrepont brought that annual oasis of civilised entertainment in the chaos of modern Christmas: MDD’s ‘A Georgian Christmas’ concert. The Hall was as welcoming as ever – elegant Christmas trees, beautiful flower arrangements, fires, mulled wine, and mince pies – almost Dickensian!
As always MDD managed to find an unsung composer – this time John Baston whose Concerto No 5 in C for soprano recorder was played with style and aplomb by Wendy; and again, as always, a neat piece of musicology with four versions of ‘In Dulce Jubilo’, concluding with an hilariously slow version by Bach, obviously written after a long, hard day looking after all the children, and a heavy meal with at least one bottle of good German wine!
The celebration of the anniversaries of the start of the Georgian era, and of Christmas meant a lot of Handel. The concert came alive with the performance of his Concerto Grosso Op.6 No 1 which was played with great élan by all the performers from the moment they launched into it with such infectious rhythmic ‘attack’.
Another feature of MDD’s concerts is their inclusion of some composers who might be considered second rate, so we were treated to bonbons from Shield and Arne who can be too easily sidelined. Michael ‘quaffed’ and ‘blow blow’ed’ with his usual style and clarity of diction.
It was splendid to hear Gareth as soloist again – he made the CPE Bach seem easy (which it can’t be) and hugely entertaining. Hint, hint, Gareth and Wendy: Haydn wrote some lovely cello concertos…!! And, suitably for the pantomime season, Cinderella got to the ball – the harpsichord emerged from the kitchen of the continuo into the limelight and Katharine’s stylish performance of Bach’s Allegro di molto from Op 5 No 2, showed just what the instrument can do in the hands of a skilled performer.
The capacity audience was in good voice (should we have been the final item perhaps?) and we all emerged onto the flight path through the darkened formal garden in a glow of pleasure from another varied, enjoyable and impeccably played concert.
It was a joy to walk through the beautiful walled garden of Holme Pierrepont Hall to enjoy ‘An 18th-Century Summer Concert’ stylishly played by the six members of MDD – Diane, Julia, Wendy, Gareth, Michael and Katharine – on Sunday, June 15th.
The choice of programme was particularly appropriate, both to suit a summer afternoon and to celebrate two anniversaries – C. P. E. Bach (born 1714) and Jean-Philippe Rameau (died 1764).
Handel opened the concert in grand style (the Overture from Theodora). Michael was in excellent voice, as usual, and treated us to a variety of songs scattered throughout the programme, by Handel, Hook, Giordani and Vivaldi. Wendy’s flute and Katharine’s harpsichord combined to enchant us with two delicate birdsong pieces by Couperin.
However, for me the highlights were the Allegro assai from C. P. E. Bach’s rather quirky cello concerto that Gareth played with a wonderful assurance, and the set of dances from Rameau’s opera-ballet Les Fêtes d’ Hébé. Henry Purcell’s magnificent Chaconne from King Arthur brought the concert to an appropriate close.
We left through the beautiful gardens having enjoyed wine and strawberries and good conversations, but above all with a wonderful variety of 17th and 18th century music ringing in our ears.
Thank you, MDD, for interpreting the dots on the page to make such elegant music for us all to enjoy!
On Saturday April 5th 2014, MDD performed in two concerts simultaneously!
The southern branch performed in Haydn’s Creation with the Barnet Choral Society at St John the Evangelist, Friern Barnet, conducted by Stephen Bullamore. Meanwhile, at the same time on the same night the northern branch performed with the Grantham Choral Society under their musical director Nigel Stark at St Wulfram’s Parish Church, Grantham. The latter programme consisted of two Coronation anthems by Handel – Zadok the Priest, and The King shall Rejoice, with Handel’s Ode to St Cecilia’s Day and Vivaldi’s Gloria. We MDD members felt that the conductor might have reserved a little more time for the rehearsal of Handel’s Ode, since it is a wonderful piece and not often performed. But we were very impressed indeed by the soprano soloist, Natalie Johnson-Hyde, and would gladly work with her again!
The logistical problem of providing a band at very short notice for Grantham resulted in some intriguing manoeuvres: Diane Terry having booked her band for Barnet long ago helped out by booking at short notice no less a player than Alastair Ross to play the organ there, thereby freeing Michael Overbury to play in Grantham. Similarly, a severe shortage of Baroque violins led Diane to find some southern ‘classical’ violins, thereby freeing Ken Mitchell and Eleanor Gilchrist to join Kirra Thomas, Lara James and Michael Sanderson in Grantham. We also swapped viola players! In my position as Diane’s deputy fixer, I had to contact no fewer than 25 Baroque oboists before finding a good player to join our own Caroline Radcliffe.
Nevertheless, despite a very late request from GCS, a very good band was fixed, including three spectacular trumpeters; and the other good news is that we have made a firm connection with this choral society.