Events: October 4th to 7th 2023
OXFORD CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL
preview by Norman Warwick
Oxford Chamber Music Festival (OCMF) acknowledges the continued support of its loyal audience members and look forward to seeing you at their concerts again next month at this year´s festival events..
All ticket booking can be made on line.
OCMF will host a special reception on the 4th October for its Friends and Sponsors. If you would like to join them, please consider signing up as a Friend and being a vital part of making the festival possible
If you would like to buy a Festival Pass, please add all the individual concert tickets to your basket – the £56 discount will then be automatically applied. This year as a Pass Holder you will receive priority access ahead of the individual ticket holders and be able to enter the venue first to choose your seats. We would ask you to arrive 5 minutes before door opening time (always half an hour before the concert start time) to join the Festival Pass Holder queue.
OCMF cannot wait to welcome its beloved artists to Oxford and to hear their electrifying performances! Their full biographies will be listed on the OCMF website next week, and featured in our mailings and social posts between now and the festival. musicians Aappearing will include
On Violin, Tetiana Lutsyk and Priya Mitchell, with Viola played by Sascha Bota, whilst On Cello there are Julian Arp and Claude Frochaux
Playing Double bass will be Misha Mullov-Abbado and Jordi Carrasco Hjelm and at the piano will be Polina Leschenko, Heini Kärkkäinen and Julius Drake.
Mezzo Soprano is Dorottya Láng and the singer with the violin is Alice Zawadzki. Playing the Clarinet will be Reto Bieri.
Prfiya Mitchell, Artistic Director of the Festival says,
Oxford is my home town and I have a deep attachment to the roots and spirit of the festival which I started here in 2000.
It has evolved and grown in to something that our loyal audiences love and cherish and where there is a real sense of musical home coming. Each festival and celebration of chamber music has its own unique dynamic and I think OCMF’s emanates just as much from the musicians as the atmosphere of Oxford’s extraordinary surroundings and rich historic context.
It always surprises and sparks a collaborative creative havoc bringing together a beautiful meeting of hearts, minds and souls
Please come and share this incomparable alchemy:
Music + Oxford!
OCMF has previouslñy been labeled a “a musical miracle”by the Daily Telegraph; It has actually been labeled “world-class by any standards” Time Out
This year’s festival, under the umbredlla title of Friegeist celebrates the free spirits and untamed hearts to which tghat word refers, in unpredictable music that refuses to play by the rules. Join us to journey through unique soundscapes, through extremes of heartache and ecstasy, in music of wild energy and mystical intensity.
The featured artist is Julian Arp, whose photographs featured in the festival programmes. He is also performing as a cellist in the festival.
OCMF opens this year on 4th October with a reception and gathering of Friends at the Vaults And Garden Café from 6.30 to 7.30 pm.
A Claire de Lune concert, generously sponsored by Robin Swailles will then commence at 8.00 pm in The Holywell Music Room.
Just as the moon influences the tides, it has long been blamed for wayward human behaviour, especially in love. Our opening concert this year reaches for the moon in glorious songs by Schumann and Schubert, thinking of distant lovers; Fauré and Reynaldo Hahn evoking the same exquisite moonlit wood; Henry Mancini’s ‘dream maker and heart breaker’; and Fauré again, observing human fickleness under the light of the moon. The songs are framed by Pärt’s meditation on the famous Moonlight sonata; Debussy’s unforgettable translation of moonlight (‘clair de lune’) into sound; and Chopin’s ultimate romantic nocturne.
The following day, Thursday 5th October we might then experience the dark side of he moon when we take in a reciotal called Madness (left), again in The Holywell Room , starting at 1.00 pm. This includes Vivaldi’s scorching treatment of an eighteenth-century ‘standard’ – La Folia – is the baroque equivalent of hot jazz, and Piazzolla’s devilish and angelic tangos are marinated in the same fiery spirit. In between we have the subtle, complex jazz style of Gershwin (including the immortal Summertime) and Stravinsky’s dry, ironic tale of a poor fiddle-playing soldier’s temptation by a very suave devil. Wealth untold! A princess bride! – if you give me your violin… It would be madness to resist!
Later the same day, at 7.30 pm in hte same venue,, a concert entitled Songs Of Freedom will be delivered. Thi is Dedicated to the memory of very dear friends and great music lovers – most generous and always steadfast in their support of the festival – Sir Oliver and Lady Phoebe Scott
Alice Zawadzki is a vocalist, violinist, songwriter and composer loosely connected to the jazz scene but described as “a genuine original” by The Guardian. With bassist, improviser and composer Misha Mullov-Abbado she has recorded her latest album for new-music label ECM, and here they explore Sephardic and Mediterranean songs of freedom. Dvořák’s exuberant piano quintet, filled with life and colour, centres on a gorgeous dumka – a form based on the epic ballads written to demand national freedom for nineteenth-century Ukraine.
On Friday 6th October you can set free your Gypsy Heart at SJE Arts, Impulsive, flamboyant and soulful, Gypsy music and musicians have been the toast of central Europe for centuries. So addictive was their style that Haydn could not resist putting a gypsy rondo into an otherwise delicate piano trio. Later, Dvořák’s Gypsy songs – including Songs my mother taught me – passionately declared both freedom and music to be basic human needs. In between, Brahms – who soaked up the music from his friend the gypsy violinist Remenyi – had worldwide hits with his Hungarian Dances, and took the style to incandescent heights in the wild finale of his piano quartet. Haydn and Brahms are on the programme as well as some favourite pieces of mine from Dvorak
In the evening, at 6.45 pm in the same venue you can see a oncert generously sponsored by James Malcomson.
.Interestingly entitled Angelic, Demonic, Prophetic, this concert delivers Three extraordinary sound-worlds collide. Schnittke’s sonata (presented again by popular demand after July’s launch concert) mixes deep mystery, madcap energy, brutality and beauty (and even a touch of boogie-woogie?); the Arensky, with its rich two-cello sound and its justly-famous variations on a Tchaikovsky tune, enters the incense-laden Orthodox church with its mystical chants; while Messiaen’s Quartet, written in the hell of a Nazi prison camp, truly is the music of divine revelations.
A littler later, across the way in Convocation House in The Bodlein Library, at 9.30 pm you can hear Free Spirits (right.) Actually, six rare spirits will join us tonight in the seventeenth-century inner sanctum of Oxford University. Two are dedicatees of these pieces – Mozart’s incomparable clarinettist Anton Stadler, and the musical philosopher (and mushroom expert) John Cage. Our 2017 composer-in-residence, the celebrated Latvian Pēteris Vasks, has written that very rare thing: a great double-bass solo. Kurtág’s supremely distilled music is unlike anyone else’s; Berio wrote much of the most vivid, original, yet approachable music of the late twentieth century. And for emotional insight and intensity, Mozart’s quintet has few peers in any century.
At 1.00 pm on Saturday 7th October, we are once again in the Holywell Room, to feel The Power of Love. Whether or not Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck had an affair under the noses of their respective spouses, there was certainly a raging mutual attraction. The songs he made from her poems led directly to the explosive passion of his masterpiece, Tristan and Isolde. Around the songs, we hear two more utterly unmistakeable voices: Poulenc, in his moving and dazzling tribute to fellow-composer Honegger; and Rachmaninov, in the epic cello sonata he wrote immediately after his second piano concerto conquered the world.
At 7.30 pm you can revel in being u untamed, in that same venue. To close OCMF for 2023 festival, we explore startlingly vivid fantasies by three of the great romantics. Schumann’s mercurial clarinet pieces swerve between melancholy, optimistic playfulness, and almost frenzied passion, ending in triumph. Beethoven’s extraordinary ‘Ghost’ slow movement evokes the chilly horror of Macbeth’s meeting with the witches; and the fourteen-year-old genius, Mendelssohn, mashes together Baroque habits, Beethoven’s structure, and tender Romantic feeling to produce something exhilaratingly new.
That sounds like one heck of a great festival, so if you might be in the area from 4th to 7th October 2023 why not rush, right now to their on line booking sight.