On June 24th, the final concert of the year (apart from Rocsoc, of course) saw around two dozen instrumentalists perform in various chamber permutations, some playing with their teachers. It was like an around the world of music in 80 minutes. A special treat was hearing the Dixon sisters (violin and ’cello) and Richard Saxel playing Gade’s 1925 tango ‘Jalousie’: no better advert for the sheer fun of making music and sharing the pleasure of portamenti with an audience. Ellen also played viola stylishly in a Mozart Duo with Kevin Weaver. We heard a wind trio sonata by Telemann (Tim Ayling on recorder) contrasted by the saxophone quartet in contemporary repertoire (one member rather older than the pupils’ combined ages…sorry, John!)
Zoё Dixon joined Emily Hill and Deescha Chandrasma in ‘Requiem’ by ’cellist-composer David Popper: a very touching piece, given an eloquent rendition. It is hard to think of a time when we had three such fine players of this instrument in the School. Again a contrast came in a somewhat bizarre arrangement for six clarinets of Freddie Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with the versatile George Wilkinson on bass clarinet; nothing really matters if the musicians are as good as this, so the loss of the words of the late Zanzibarian crooner could be tolerated.
It was a bit early in the evening for drunken sailors but trumpeters Noah Frett, Christian Oldfield and Bob Wilson gave us a far from sober shanty. Tabitha Francis adopted the flutey tones of Josh Wilson-Khanna’s instrument in Arne’s ‘When Daisies Pied’, painting the meadows with delight, or at least the Recital Room of the MMS. Pianist George Pettifer gave a strong lead, with well-timed rubato, to Saskia Hogan and Elizabeth Paton in the famous little waltz by Shostakovitch much used in films and advertisements. Leclair is not a composer who fills me with excitement when seen on a concert programme but Deescha and Soo Choi (with Phil Scriven) came close to curing my allergy to the French baroque, especially in the steady but attractive gigue: a well-balanced duo.
The very end of the concert was a little theatrical touch, reminiscent of Haydn’s ‘Farewell’ symphony as, after an a capella and memorised rendition of ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’, the Chamber Choir processed out of the two doors, providing a lovely Neptunian (à la Holst) diminuendo. A great highlight of the evening were the two evocative settings of Sara Teasdale from ‘The Seasons’ by former Cranleigh keyboard tutor, Seb Weiss (premiered this May under Cranleigh vocal coach Graham Wili). The 16-strong Cranleigh Voices may have found this a hard sing but it was a delight for listeners. This group seemed a microcosm of Cranleigh music-making this term: a mixture of youth and experience; male and female; and Common Room and pupils.