AYLESBURY LUNCHTIME MUSIC
Previously known as Music at Lunchtime
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Aylesbury
Thursdays. 12.45. £5.00, 18 and under free
Admissions payment from 12.15. Cash only, no pre-booking necessary
Yes, Aylesbury has become one of the best towns in the country – comparing like with like – for regular chamber music. As you can see we do not spend on wasteful glossy publicity, but this series (we are told) is among the finest of its kind in the UK – international professional musicians in weekly concerts of usually around an hour. We do our best to maintain an admission price which is affordable to anyone interested, and endeavour always to offer fresh, varied and broad-ranging programmes, not forgetting living composers. We are responsive to requests for favourite works, and generous donations and monetary gifts from an enthusiastic audience make possible concerts otherwise beyond our means, usually featuring larger ensembles. If you haven’t tried us, please do so – we hope you will find everything friendly, welcoming and up to expectations.
Many of our musicians have websites and are on YouTube and other such platforms, so you can easily check them out for yourselves.
St Mary’s now has an excellent vegan café up and running, so why not combine your visit with lunch or refreshments?
This listing was correct at the time of issue, but Aylesbury Lunchtime Music reserves the right to change programmes. We always do our best to give advance notice, but to be sure you should subscribe to our email service
Mike also updates our website:
We positively invite any comments about our concerts direct to us or to Mike via email.
Our sole source of income is from our admission receipts, plus any extra donations our supporters feel they can give us.
These donations are RING-FENCED FOR MUSIC, and NEVER spent on overheads.
Aylesbury Lunchtime Music is grateful to Fr Doug Zimmerman, the Rector of St Mary’s, for making the performers and organising team so welcome, and to Karen Baker, the Parish Administrator, who prints our programmes and helps in other ways beyond the call duty and her precious time.
Our concerts last usually around an hour, but it is best to allow 75 minutes.
Mike Butterworth: hosting, website, email, publicity, press liaison
Trevor Dawe: hosting
Colin Ferris; treasurer and page turner
Janet Frost: hosting and admission desk
David Mulraney: programming, programmes, listings
Marion Mulraney: admission desk
Jane Turner: hosting
2020 CONCERTS: JANUARY TO APRIL
9th January. ICKNIELD ENSEMBLE. Arwen Newband, Alan Thorogood, violins; Nicholas Turner, viola; Sarah Boxall, cello; Anna Le Hair, piano.
This ensemble has strong local connections, with the Tring-based Anna, a tireless presence in live music throughout the Vale, in charge of the piano. This is the last of our series featuring masterpieces from the French chamber music renaissance towards the end of the 19th century (that said, the Fauré G minor Piano Quartet is scheduled for next year). The Franck Piano Quintet is simply one of the most explicitly passionate chamber works in the repertoire, and the St Mary acoustic will be perfect for its emotional extravagance. The Hungarian Dohnányi’s C minor Piano Quintet is a remarkable work for an 18-year-old, and no less a figure than Brahms arranged its Vienna premiere. Quite a programme, and you should allow a full 75 minutes for it.
16th January. IAN BYRNE BRITO, viola; SIU CHUI LI, piano.
The performance of the Shostakovich Viola Sonata offered here has been a difficult project, with the original violist becoming, as the euphemism has it, ‘indisposed’; however, there is every hope he may be able to attend this concert. Ian, a superb musician, well known to us through the Anern Trio and the Friern Ensemble, stepped in, and – with Siu Chui, who has an international reputation as a chamber pianist [she has visited us before, in the Trout Quintet] – has learnt this incredibly demanding work especially for us. It is the composer’s last, composed while he was dying, with two meditative movements framing one of his great ironic ‘scherzos’. The finale features a Beethoven quotation which everyone will recognise. Ian and Siu Chui will also play an arrangement by Forbes Watson of Mozart’s E minor Violin Sonata K304. We owe both our guests a debt of gratitude for this concert.
23rd January. UEDA / RINALDO DUO. Lisa Ueda, violin; Daniele Rinaldo, piano.
Japanese-born Lisa first played for us over a decade ago as a student, making a huge impression. Since she has appeared as a violinist in the Anern Trio and Friern Ensemble, but – at last – we have her with Daniele Rinaldo in one of the finest international duo partnerships of their generation. Daniele is anyway one of the foremost of younger Italian pianists, and has played as a soloist all over the world. They are stepping in for a cancellation, and their programme contains works they will have prepared for their second CD, due to be recorded just before our concert: the sonata by Reynaldo Hahn from 1926/7, a neglected lyrical masterpiece, and the Divertimento by Stravinsky, arranged from his Tchaikovsky-inspired ballet, The Fairy’s Kiss. From their first CD, which hopefully will be on sale, comes the fiery Violin Sonata by Janáček. Allow over the hour for this world-class concert.
30th January. NATASHA SACHSENMEIER, violin; JENNIFER HUGHES, piano.
Natasha, as well as a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, has a degree in philosophy from Trinity College Cambridge, and a mathematics degree from the OU. She has played widely, not least once before at Aylesbury. Her pianist was then, and is now, Jennifer Hughes, a superb and versatile chamber musician, and a welcome visitor to St Mary’s for well over a decade. The programme promises nothing but enjoyment: Bartók’s First Rhapsody, evoking Balkan folk music, Brahms’ most dramatic Violin Sonata, the D minor, and the violin version of Prokofiev’s delightful D major Sonata, usually heard on the flute (as we did in back in November). And in case anyone thinks that’s poor value for your fiver, Natasha (especially) and Jennifer will take deep breaths and play Antonio Bazzini’s La Ronde des Lutins / Dance of the Goblins. You may not believe it.
6th February. CONSTANCE CHOW, piano.
Constance was trained at King’s College London and Guildhall, and now enjoys a reputation as a concert pianist across the UK and Europe and in her native Hong Kong. In this, her first recital at Aylesbury, she is playing Schumann’s evergreen Kinderszenen, Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and the Fifth Sonata in F minor by the English composer York Bowen, first performed in 1924. Bowen – who has a considerable following – is often lazily called the ‘English Rachmaninov’, but this gives a sense of his Romantic style. His music has certainly been requested, and for some this will be a highlight.
13th February. AYLESBURY OPERA. Louisa PETAIS, Eva Gheorghiu, sopranos; Rachel FARAGO, mezzo-soprano; Philip Hayes, tenor; Alistair Sutherland, baritone.; Kelvin Lim, piano.
AO’s annual visit, and how good they are under their brilliant music director Kelvin! A feast from verismo operas – Puccini, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Cilea. More information is likely to appear on the website.
20th February. ADRIANA CRISTEA, violin; MINA BELDIMANESCU, piano.
Two newcomers – exciting prize-winning Romanian musicians who are bringing an hour-long programme called Romania with Love, an anthology of short pieces by various composers, mostly unknown beyond the Carpathians. The selection has been made with emphasis on the folk roots Balkan music. Adriana calls herself a passionate violinist, and that is the quality needed for this earthy colourful repertoire. Let’s see if she and Mina can set the church on fire (so to speak). You might be sorry if you miss this one.
27th February. MIKHAIL LEZDKAN, cello; BÉLA HARTMANN, piano.
Mikhail is a distinguished Russian-born cellist, now living and working in the UK. He has toured Asia with Vanessa Mae, worked with orchestras such as the St Petersburg and Moscow Philharmonic, and is a chamber musician and teacher. Béla’s connection with St Mary’s go back to the early years of the century, and it’s wonderful to have him back. He is Czech-German, but lives in the UK, and has played all over Europe and at the Carnegie Hall in New York. This is the first of two concerts to commemorate Beethoven’s 250th birth anniversary with all his cello sonatas. You will hear Opus 5 no 1 in F, and the great A major Sonata Opus 69. The series will be concluded on 4th June.
5th March. ANNA LE HAIR, piano.
The versatile Tring-based pianist (see 9th January) – her repertoire, and her energy, seem inexhaustible – is returning for a solo recital. She is to play Beethoven’s first published sonata (we are celebrating his 250th birth anniversary), Janáček’s beautiful set of atmospheric miniatures On an overgrown path, and Debussy’s ebullient L’isle joyeuse. A beautifully constructed programme.
12th March. TOM RIDOUT, amplified recorder; BILLY MARROWS, guitar; FLO MOORE, double bass.
This is one of our rare ventures into jazz, bringing to St Mary’s three outstanding musicians of the younger generation. Tom Ridout was a finalist in the 2016 BBC Young Musician Jazz Award, and has since graduated from the RAM and won the Lancaster Festival Youth Jazz Competition. His album, No Excuses (hopefully on sale) features Tom on tenor and soprano saxophones and alto and bass recorders with a 13 piece band. For us, we have two other stars of the young jazz scene, Billy Marrows, named the 2019 Eddie Harvey Jazz Arranger of the Year, and bassist Flo Moore. The programme includes a reworking of a Handel sonata.
19th March. CLARISSA PAYNE, flute; ADAM KHAN, guitar.
Two very experienced performers have formed a duo to develop the kind of enterprising repertory we love at St Mary’s, here all by female composers. We have a sonata by Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, bound up in the musical politics of the Sun King’s Court; and then Choro Suite, by the Brazilian composer Chiquinha Gonzaga, born in the middle of the 19th century and having a most extraordinary long and resourceful life: the choro became the heart of Brazilian urban popular music. Other items include Canyon Echoes by the American composer Katherine Hoover, who died in 1918, and Rootveld Klezmer Suite by the young Dutch composer and guitarist Annette Kruisbrinck.
26th March. ADAM HERON, piano.
Already laden with more prizes than could be listed here, Hong-Kong born Adam (but of Nigerian/Filipino descent) has established himself as one of the strongest pianists of his generation; he is also a conductor. Settling in Cheltenham, his professional training has taken him from Wells Cathedral School to the Royal Academy of Music. Some of you might remember him as a piano finalist in the 2018 BBC Young Musician competition. He is now building a truly international career. For us, it looks like Bach and Brahms. Be an email subscriber, or watch the website for details.
2nd April. ESBE, singer; PETER MICHAELS, guitar.
Esbe is a singer (and a composer, producer, artist/designer) like nobody else we have heard at St Mary’s. From her classical training as singer and guitarist (she won the Julian Bream Prize), she moved through a fascination with the lutenist songs of John Dowland to an interest in World Music, taking in both Indian and Middle Eastern influences. From the latter, she developed her first album, Desert Songs, based on special translations of the great 13th century Sufi mystic poet Rumi. Her programme is from this album, although others have followed. They might be on sale. To Peter, who has been twice before, we can wholeheartedly say: Welcome back!
9th April. MASAYUKI TAYAMA, piano.
This rare and extraordinary musician and Rachmaninov specialist visits us again, as enthusiastically requested. And he’s bringing another taxing programme. ‘Rach’ lovers will find more excitement than ever, as Masa is playing the rarely heard original version of the mighty B flat Sonata, as opposed to the slimmed-down revision we normally hear. Also more from his favourite composer, and Debussy (La Fille aux cheveux de lin) and Ravel (Sonatine). Quite an hour! Self-recommending.
16th April. DARYL GIULIANO, cello; JULIA MAMETYEVA, piano.
Canadian cellist Daryl first played at Aylesbury a couple of years ago, and has become a strong supporter of our concerts; and we welcome prize-winning Russian pianist Julia on her first visit. To honour the solemnity of Maundy Thursday we are having solo Bach and Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, based on a Jewish prayer. The Cello Sonata by Maurice Emmanuel, composed when a pupil of Delibes in 1887, but too ‘modern’ for the old boy to handle, has a rare and well-deserved outing. Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in D, opus 102/2 concludes. By the way, Easter stalwarts, the Aylesbury Consort of Voices, are booked for our Christmas concert.
23rd April. JUDITH CHOI-CASTRO, violin; JOHN PAUL EKINS, piano.
The much requested return of this in-demand duo. Of Judith: A musician that touches the heart of the audience… Magnificent performance, the energy level was high and exhilarating… Of John Paul: A once-in-a-lifetime concert. The only criticism was that he could have played for another hour or three… Technical wizardry was combined with taut rhythms and powerful attack… Their particular style will be ideal for the most dramatic of Beethoven’s violin sonatas, the C minor Op 30/2. Circumstances might change the rest of the programme, but as it stands they are playing Brahms’ Sonata in G major and the Debussy Sonata.
30th April. ANNE DENHOLM, harp; ALENA WALENTIN, flute.
Another not-to-be-missed concert is assured with these performers, who excel in every way on their respective instrument. Anne memorably has already visited us as a member of The Hermes Experiment, where she did things with a harp certainly not required during her four years as Harpist to the Prince of Wales, nor today. The Guardian critic: She demonstrated a depth and range to the instrument I have never really heard before… Alena is in great demand as a recitalist, Guest Principal Flute in leading UK orchestras, and as a teacher at three of our conservatoires. Their basically traditional programme includes Bach, Debussy, and William Alwyn’s Naiads Fantasy. Alwyn is one of our requested composers.
If you enjoy live classical music in Aylesbury at this level please support these concerts as often as you can
Not a penny of donated and gifted money goes on overheads
We must thank Fr Doug Zimmerman of St Mary’s for his warmth, good humour and encouragement, and Karen Baker for printing our programmes whatever her workload.
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