Ghosts in Albert Square
The Manchester Camerata “probably Britain’s most adventurous orchestra” so says the Times.
I think we could leave out “probably” as the partnership with the Keyboard Charitable Trust is fast proving.
“The Manchester Camerata- the experimental orchestra” exclaims the Manchester Evening News.
Venues have so far included the Whitworth Art Gallery;Home- an Arts centre where once stood a leather factory;Manchester Cathedral;the magnificent Stoller Hall ,part of Chethams Music School;The Anthony Burgess Foundation – an ex rubber factory; and now the very imposing Albert Square.
The very hub of Manchester and the repeal of the cruel corn laws that levied an enormous tax on imported goods and lead to famine in some poor quarters whilst the rich were getting richer. In 1846 Sir Robert Peel won a reform in Parliament despite his own party’s opposition .
Rings a bell.
Some things never change!
This square created in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband Albert who died of typhoid in 1861.
The imposing Gothic town hall is Manchester’s largest Grade 1 building designed by Alfred Waterhouse and completed in ten years in 1877 with bricks donated by the workers.
Statues of John Bright,Oliver Heywood,William Gladstone and James Fraser, all instrumental in the repeal of the corn laws, adorn every corner of this square.
But of course pride of place goes to the Albert Memorial in the centre.
Interesting to know that in another corner stands the old Free Trade Hall .
The original home of the Halle Orchestra founded by Sir Charles Halle in 1858.
It was reopened in 1951 after being so cruelly bombed during the second world war.
The re opening was with the Halle under it’s conductor Sir John Barbirolli with Kathleen Ferrier who sang “Land of Hope and Glory” for the one and only time in her all too short career.
Now music has transferred to the splendid new Bridgewater Hall just a stones’ throw away and this historic building has become a Radisson luxury hotel!
But the Manchester Camerata have now brought classical music back into the square as part of the Gobe Fest.
A three day Hungarian-Transylvanian celebration.
Having spent the summer in the glorious surrounds of Transylvania – the land of magic castles,folk music and Count Dracula I could fully realise the choice of music very aptly exorcising the” Ghost” of Beethoven with his magnificent trio in D major op 70 n.1.
In the hands of Vitaly Pisarenko,Caroline Pether and Hannah Roberts they performed to a crowd of people all set to enjoy what was on offer in the beautiful Mancunian sunshine.
Stalls full of the most wondrous foods and beers with trestle tables laid out in front of a large open air stage where the events were to take place.
The Festival had been opened by the Lord Mayor of Manchester and the charming lady organiser in traditional Hungarian costume had arranged for the original Hungarian Folk song to be sung, that had inspired Bartok in the first piece that out players were to offer as an entree to the Beethoven.
A very fine amplification system allowed the music to carry and penetrate the very hearts of the revellers who were voluntarily silenced by the magic of a music they were not expecting.
And what music!
The Camerata is indeed the most adventurous orchestra that takes music to the most unexpected places.
Allowing people from all walks of life to discover the magic world that maybe the were not aware of .
Bringing music to the people …….or is it the people to the music ……….whatever it is ,however different the venue ..the superb music making is always the same.
The Camerata “spot” opened with works by Bartok and Kodaly.
“An Evening from the Village “and “Three Hungarian Folk Dances from Czik” by Bartok were performed as a trio in an arrangement specially commissioned from Simon Parkin.
Some superbly idiomatic playing that opened the door for two remarkable performances of the mammoth Duo for Violin and Cello by Kodaly and the Romanian Folk Dances in the well known arrangement for violin and piano by Szekely.
Almost 30 minutes of virtuoso playing from Hannah Roberts and Caroline Pether in the solo duo by Kodaly. The violin of Caroline soaring into the air as she conversed with Hannah’s expressive cello playing. A tension that held the audience entranced from the first to the last note in this not easily digested score.
Similar ,of course, to the great solo cello sonata .
This much more rarely heard duo needs two true virtuosi to conquer the difficulties both musical and technical that Kodaly demands.
Now fully warmed up and having won over this vast crowd assembled that were ready to appreciate fully the artistry of the performers that had been persuaded to play in this very unusual ” pop” type venue .
An adventure indeed for all concerned but everyone was able to appreciate the magnificent performances that were so unexpectedly on offer.
The Romanian Dances with Caroline Pether and Vitaly Pisarenko were played with such verve and sense of colour and style that the final flourishes were greeted by a wave of appreciation.
Just time for Geoffrey Schindler and Bob Riley Honorary Chairman and General manager respectively of the Camerata ,to top up their drinks before the Beethoven, on this welcoming summers’ day .
The main work was the trio in D major op 70 n.1 nicknamed by Beethoven’s pupil Czerny “Ghost” as the slow movement reminded him of the opening scene of Hamlet.
A superbly integrated performance where the contact between the players was electric. Each player watching intently the other ready to guide or be guided in a continual give and take that is at the very heart of true chamber music.
The rhythmic energy of the opening and the question and answer between the piano and strings was quite riveting.
The piano scales so subtly integrated into the sounds produced by the violin and cello.
The so called Ghost” movement played with such a subtle sense of colour and atmosphere even in this vast space a magic was cast over the revellers in the square below.
The truly exhilarating energy in the final Presto brought this unexpected performance to an end.
It made one wish to hear it all over again in one of Manchester’s new halls where the subtle artistry of this newly formed trio could be truly appreciated.
The two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020 gives food for thought for an integral performance of these masterpieces by this newly born trio. An adventure indeed for Britain’s most adventurous ensemble.
The fourth of October will see two KCT artists with the Camerata again.André Gallo and Gala Chistiakova will perform Saint Saens Carnival of the Animals and Schumann’s rarely performed Andante and variations in the original version for two pianos,two cellos and horn.Mozart D major sonata will open the programme at the Stoller Hall.
Interesting to note that Vitaly Pisarenko is godfather to Gala’s son Leonardo …………….Small world !