Classical music in Seaton

PUBLISHED: 10:39 30 September 2009 | UPDATED: 00:16 16 June 2010

It may feel more like summer now than it did in July, but it is actually autumn. There are some consolations, however, and one of these is the arrival of the new chamber music series in Seaton Town Hall, sponsored by SeatonMusic.

It may feel more like summer now than it did in July, but it is actually autumn. There are some consolations, however, and one of these is the arrival of the new chamber music series in Seaton Town Hall, sponsored by SeatonMusic.

SeatonMusic is one of the jewels in the crown of East Devon's musical scene. It is a not-for-profit charity, whose mission is to sponsor affordable, top quality, professional classical music performances, to commission new works and to put real energy and innovation into music education activities for the young.

Centre-stage is the annual chamber concert series, which has been a feature of local life for nearly 60 years, and this year's is a cracker.

The opening concert on Thursday, October 8 features the internationally renowned London Concertante - one of Europe's finest chamber ensembles - with a mixed programme of music, including Schubert's wonderful Octet for woodwinds, horn and strings, the Octet by Francaix and an arrangement of Richard Strauss's tragi-comic, orchestral tone poem Till Eulenspiegel.

On November 12, the Town Hall will play host to the piano duo (one piano, four hands) of Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa. This promises to be an outstanding evening with music by John McCabe, Mozart's brilliant and demanding Sonata in C, Schubert's A flat Variations, the Andante and Allegro Brilliante by Felix Mendelssohn and Ravel's ravishing Rhapsodie Espagnol.

Each year, SeatonMusic tries to include at least one concert that breaks the traditional mould and offer something unfamiliar, either in its repertoire or in its instrumental format. This year, on December 3, they do both. Classic Rhythm is an improbable ensemble of flute, piano and percussion, which performs unusual arrangements of both standard and less well-known repertoire. This concert will feature music from the Handel and Rossini to Debussy and Leonard Bernstein. Standards of musicianship are impeccable and the prospect of an enjoyable Christmas season concert should encourage a large audience.

The concert on January 21, 2010 is more traditional fare. The celebrated Litmus Trio (cello, flute and piano) will perform music by Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn and also take the opportunity to premiere a new work, Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano, written for them by Clive Jenkins.

On Wednesday, February 25, the Barbirolli Quartet will play string quartets by Mozart, Luciano Berio and Brahms. The Mozart String Quartet no 22 K589, written around 1790, is among his finest contributions to the form and has been described as a work of "enigmatic beauty". In his Opus 51 No1 Quartet, Brahms overcame his near pathological fear of comparisons with Beethoven to produce a quartet of great beauty, showing that characteristic richness of texture, which is so quintessentially Brahms.

More Schubert (Four Impromptus) and some Bartok (the lively Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythms from Mikrokosmos), as well as two beautiful Chopin pieces, are to be performed by the youthful, Australian pianist Jayson Gilham. Well-known in Australian classical music circles, Jayson is building a solid reputation in Europe. He appears in Seaton on March 18.

And finally to May, when violinist Fenella Barton will play two Violin Sonatas by JS Bach and a new (and avowedly accessible) piece by American composer Philip Lasser.

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