It was local talent who last week entertained the members of the Shipston Music Society. Tim and Helen Porter and their daughter Hannah, are just three members of a musical family (the others were performing elsewhere!) Tim is a self-taught harmonica player, Helen is well known in the area as a piano teacher and Hannah plays the piano, flute and violin.

They produced a varied programme with many pieces easily recognised by the audience interspersed with others, new to many, some arranged by the family during “jamming sessions”.For instance, the lively ”The Entertainer” by Scot Joplin was followed by the slower, slightly wistful opening of “Desperado” by Frey and Henley. The interaction between harmonica and, firstly flute then violin, swapping the melody and countermelody with perfect balance was well executed. “My Baby just cares for me” sung and self- accompanied by Hannah was a delight; she has an intuitive sense of style within the jazz idiom. Other highlights were “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar where the harmonica really became the principal performer. The piece had a rather sad “folk tune” type theme in a minor key and was performed with expertise and feeling by Tim. In contrast, “What a wonderful world” also highlighting the harmonica, was full of sunshine and joy. “Summertime” (George Gershwin) began with an introduction consisting of snatches of the main theme being passed around the players, before the flute finally took the melody into the higher range for a complete rendition which, as usual, was achieved effortlessly by Hannah. Two contrasting piano rags by Scott Joplin, “Maple Leaf Rag” and “Solace” were played with great attention to detail by Helen, and the evening ended with “The Man I Love” by Gershwin where Hannah’s flawless top notes again filled the high ceiling of the Shipston Methodist Church.

With a programme featuring pieces by composers ranging from Telemann,  Debussy and Rachmaninov to John Barry, Ronnie Hazelhurst and Paul McCartney, this was an evening of contrasting styles executed with skill and obvious enjoyment and was suitably rewarded with enthusiastic applause.

Despite the unfavourable weather conditions many members and friends braved the elements to attend the March meeting  -  a recital by Margeta Nadvornikova (violin) and Charles Matthews (piano). Marketa was born in Prague and began playing the violin at the age of five. In 2011 when aged fifteen she studied at the Prague Conservatoire and, after winning many competitions, she decided to continue her training at the Conservatoire in Birmingham. She is now in her final year before undertaking professional appearances. Charles Matthews has performed extensively as pianist and organist; in 1999 he won 1st prize in the Franz Liszt Organ Interpretation Competition in Budapest. He is organist of St. Catharine’s Church in Chipping Camden and is a tutor of piano and organ at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

The recital began with the 1st movement of Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G major which immediately demonstrated Marketa’s technical skills, particularly in the demanding coda section where she tackled the double and triple stopping with complete assurance. “From the Homeland” by Smetana, with moments of “longing” for home was followed by Dvorak’s “Romance in F minor” with lovely melodic phrases and then his rhythmically energetic “Mazurek”; all three works demonstrating the influence of Bohemian national folk music on the works of Smetana and Dvorak.

After the interval a short organ fugue in Bb major by another Bohemian composer, Johann Baptist Wanhal. Written in the Baroque style this provided an interesting contrast before hearing Janacek’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. Although there were hints of folk music in this work, one could begin to see also the influence of the early 20th century. The final item was the 1st movement of Dvorak’s Violin Concerto, an exciting and dazzling performance  to end an evening in which the two instruments were equal partners, the synchronisation was superb, and Marketa and Charles’ pleasure in performing was suitably rewarded by rapturous applause from the delighted audience.

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