I enjoyed an hour of real music at lunchtime today at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford. Here in this small, dark theatre, where just under one hundred, mostly elderly gathered, to listen to the Consonum Ensemble, one man at least wisely continuing to drink his coffee as the show starts. The ensemble, comprises one pianist, one clarinettist and one soprano, playing an assortment of short pieces. A large screen showing a pinkish, purple light dominated the darkened theatre.Over the speaker a gentle piano tinkles away as we enter and fight over our seats. This is not really necessary as the Civic holds about 250 I would guess, but some folks like to keep to 'their seat,' especially when it is at the end of a row. I gently kicked an aged crone aside and found an almost empty row where I could deposit myself far from the TCP aroma on my right. I did find it somewhat disappointing that there was no 'Grand Piano.' instead an upright, tuned and ready, awaits. Suitable I am sure but it does give the appearance of a pub night with 'Chas & Dave' rather than an hour of Schumann & Schubert. Maybe the remembrance of two many out of tune church pianos was flitting through my mind?
The trio enter somewhat embarrassedly to mild applause. It then crosses my mind that some may sink into slumber if the show is not to their liking, the place is warm and that heat increases as the hour passes, maybe that explained the coffee? The minute the Soprano lifted her voice however I realised that as the man said, 'Nessam dorma mate,' or 'None shall sleep' to you!
There then followed a delightful hour of music. This is what was played for you music lovers out there. (No dear, having danced the night away at that 'Abba Tribute' evening does not make you a 'Music lover,' believe me!)
'Firstlings' by Betty Roe
Three Folk Songs by John McCabe
Fragments from 'The Hollow Men' by Jacob Shirley
'Fantasie Italienne' by Marc Diemas
'Tonada y Cueca' by Carlos Guastavino
Two Songs from 'The Hermit Songs' by Samuel Barber
'Er, der Herrlichste von allen' by Robert Schumann
'Liebst du um Schonheit' by Carla Schumann
'Der Hirt auf Dem Felsen' by Franz Schubert.
Those of us among the audience who know how to find Radio 3 on the wireless thoroughly enjoyed our short time. The pianist was outstanding,and it shows just how much hard work is required to obtain an honours degree in music! I was much impressed, especially as the pretty young lass had to take part in each item, the soprano and the clarinet could take a break at times. The combination worked well, although I thought we could have had more clarinet as the soprano, excellent indeed, dominated the whole piece otherwise. However I must not appear to criticise. Some time back I made it clear that a music critic I heard could not 'enjoy' music because he spent his time criticising it. I do not wish that to happen to me, especially as I do not have the knowledge in my ears to appreciate the finer aspects of music performance. I should point out that the pretty young pianist has also indicated that criticism may result in loosened teeth and I believe her! I did respect the clarinet player, lumbered with two women two handle, he did less than they but I suspect this was to give him the strength to carry the bags afterwards. He was very good, especially for one who obtained a degree in architecture, a funny way to learn the clarinet I thought.
Afterwards to much applause the trio slip out. The lights alter, the pinkish screen returns and amid gossip the audience quickly departs. The elderly steward asks one if the show was 'enjoyable,' "Oh yes," she says, although whether from pleasure or politeness I was not too sure. Most appeared to enjoy it, as I did, thoroughly.In fact the last time I enjoyed a concert so much was back in the winter of 1971/2 when I heard the 'Third Ear Band,' light show and all, in the basement of the Methodist Church in Notting Hill. They produced one or two excellent albums and I see no reason for these three not to emulate their success in time. They are a trio well worth looking out for.
Their following appearances:-
6th March. 7:30. St Barnabus Church, Woodford Green. (Two girls only)
April 15th 1pm. St Johns Church. Notting Hill, London
10th June 7:30 St Andrews Church, Surbiton.
24th August 3:15 Southwark Cathedral, London.