Seaton concert hits the right notes

PUBLISHED: 17:23 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 00:41 16 June 2010

Classical music with a difference was what was on offer for Seaton Music Club in its recent concert

Classical music with a difference was what was on offer for Seaton Music Club in its recent concert - well-known pieces like the William Tell overture, The Nutcracker Suite, The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, as well as modern jazz and excerpts from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story performed by the unique, and dynamic trio Classic Rhythm - Helen O'Connell (flute), Adrian Sutcliffe (keyboards) and Chris Brannick (percussion), all of whom have performed at top venues in this country and abroad.

In the afternoon, the trio had run a workshop for the children of Seaton Primary School, who had the chance to try out some of the vast array of percussion instruments - among them drums, glockenspiel, vibraphone,- and use them in a 'performance', as well as seeing the range of the musicians' skills.

Adrian Sutcliffe's arrangement of Handel for the group was an exciting curtain-raiser for the evening concert, where the conversion of the original two oboes and harpsichord into flute, marimba/vibraphone and (electronic) harpsichord gave us a taste of the range of sounds and versatility to come. In the Rossini overture, each of the three players had virtuoso parts, - not just the flute - but these classical pieces impressed too, with subtlety, balance and phrasing. Debussy's Footsteps in the Snow, arranged for vibraphone and piano, captured well the reflective nature of this atmospheric piece.

In another change of style, Adrian Sutcliffe's The Emerald Isle is an original composition for this trio (written in 1992), based on three British folksongs, each one developed for itself before the rousing finale. The audience will hear the Skye Boat Song and Scarborough Fair with new interest in future! Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, an obvious favourite in the weeks before Christmas, was equally exciting in the Classic Rhythm treatment - with the full battery of percussion in action (with one player!) and breath-taking (!) performances on the flute/ piccolo and piano.

After the interval, the programme started with a compilation of Christmas tunes using the full range of instruments. Then, another original composition by Adrian Sutcliffe, his Jazz Suite with three contrasting movements, reflecting a city scene with a jaunty flute solo, the more reflective Alone in the Night and a brilliant third movement inspired by a temperamental Ukrainian violinist - you could feel yourself transported to an eastern European performance!

Passion and temperament were evident too in Chris Brannick's arrangement of Victor Monti's Czardas. To say that percussionists only have to 'hit the right note at the right time' is a gross understatement - this was a virtuoso performance, full of humour as well. The audience was too enthralled to accept the invitation to dance!

The final piece was arrangements of well-known melodies from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story and his Symphonic Dances, a fitting conclusion to an evening full of surprise, variety and presented with humour and informality.

Not surprisingly, an encore was called for - and the audience were treated to the Classic Rhythm version of The Jungle Book.

The next Music Club concert will be given by the Litmus Trio (flute, cello and piano), on Thursday, January 21, 2010, in Seaton Town Hall.


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