Autumn music in Sheffield

There are two opportunities to see me perform in Sheffield on Saturday 15th October: at 4pm in the Winter Gardens and at 8pm in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane.

Following on from the highly successful Classical Sheffield Festival last autumn, the organisation is hosting a weekend of pop-up performances in Sheffield’s Winter Gardens. The line-up features an extremely wide range of music, and there will be appearances by The Abbeydale Singers, Platform 4 and The Beekeepers Chamber Folk Group to name but a few. I will give a short solo performance at 4pm including excerpts from Bach’s E major Partita and Biber’s haunting Passagalia, considered by many to be the most important work for unaccompanied violin before Bach. Entrance to the gardens is free.

In the evening I will be at St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane for a concert with Black Velvet Clarinet Quartet and on this occasion I will be accompanied by my dad, Roy Phillips. My contribution to the programme includes Mozart’s Sonata for piano and violin in G major, K.301 and Schumann’s Romance in A, Op. 94 no. 2. I am also particularly looking forward to performing the Romance by Karol Szymanowski; written in the autumn of 1910, after the completion of his second symphony, the work is extremely passionate and full of rich chromatic harmony. At this time Szymanowksi was influenced by the music of late-Romantic composers such as Richard Strauss and Wagner, as well as Scriabin and Chopin.

Black Velvet Clarinet Quartet, which was formed in 2012 and essentially comprises the clarinet sections of the Sheffield Chamber Orchestra and the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra, will perform works dating from the Renaissance to the present day. Some are transcriptions of well-known pieces, such as Brahms’ Hungarian Dance no.5 and Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla, whereas some were written especially for clarinet quartet. Caprice, by american composer Clare Grundman (1913-1996), is one of a number of pieces he wrote for clarinets. He is best known for his works for symphonic wind band, such as the American Folk Rhapsodies.

The concert begins at 8pm and door open from 7.30pm. Tickets will be available on the door priced £12/£8 concessions. There will be a short interval during which refreshments will be served.

Piano trio in Chesterfield Library

This week I braved Snake Pass for the first time and travelled to Rochdale, where, fuelled by some delicious cheese and onion pie provided by the church, David and I performed sonatas by Franck and Mendelssohn to an appreciative audience in St Mary in the Baum.

As the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked, and I am straight on to preparing for my next performance in a couple of weeks. The programme will be Haydn’s Trio in G major ‘Gypsy Rondo’, Giordani’s Duetto I, Grieg Andante con moto and Revolucionario by Astor Piazzolla. I will be joined by Catherine Strachan (cello) and David Hammond (piano) both of whom studied at the University of York at the same time as me.

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The Grieg is a particularly interesting piece. Composed in 1878, the same year as the G minor string quartet, it is a single-movement work, probably the beginnings of a complete piano trio. It was discovered after his death by his friend and colleague Julius Rontgen, but, like the Mendelssohn sonata I performed this week, it was not published until more recently, in the complete Grieg edition of 1978. The whole movement is constructed from a single theme which uses just 6 notes, but at the same time includes a huge amount of variety in its tonality, texture, use of instruments and tempo. Rontgen wrote: “What a solemnity it conveys! How he can’t get enough of that single theme, that even in the major mode retains its mourning character, and then develops so beautifully its full power”.

Grieg is one of my favourite composers and in the past I have performed two of his violin sonatas (G major and C minor), so I am very much looking forward to presenting this trio in Chesterfield Library. The concert begins at 11.45am and entry is free.