This concert was the penultimate one of the season and what an enjoyable concert it was. Australian, James Blackford plays the Euphonium, this is an instrument which looks like a small tuba and is sometimes called the tenor tuba. James is a winner of the Philip & Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists, and on tonight’s showing is a worthy winner. Other winners of this prestigous award include Steven Isserlis, Elizabeth Watts and Craig Ogden.
James’s accompanist on the piano was Ruth Hollick. The first half of the concert was taken up by familiar works such as Villiers- Stanford’s Caoine a Clarinet Sonata and James played the second movement which has been arranged for the Euphonium. This was a delightful beginning to the concert. This was followed by Hummel’s Fantasy, James played the one on Mozart’s “Non piu andrai” (Figaro), Op.124. This was followed by the lovely Prayer, the first movement from Bloch’s A Jewish Life. Then we heard that wonderful Variations on a Rococo Theme by Tchaikovsky.
After the interval James and Ruth played for us Anthony Brahe’s Tour de Force, this music was written especially for James. It was indeed a a tour de force. This was followed by Piazzola’s tango Café 1930. Another treat followed, Martin Ellerby’s Euphonium concerto and we heard the 3rd and 4th movements. The last item on the Programme was Philip Spark’s Harlequin this piece was composed for and dedicated to the Euphonium virtuoso David Childs. It depicts the happy and sad masks of the Comedia dell’Arte, this features Harlequin as one of the main characters, the other eight are Zanni (Giovanni), Pantalone, il Dottore, Pulcinella, Columbina, il Capitano and Brighella. I enjoyed this piece very much and felt that it really showed off the versatility of the Euphonium. Judging by the whoops and loud clapping at the end, the audience felt the same.
We were treated to an encore – a very popular choice for a Lincolnshire audience – part of (another Australian), Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Poesy.
James was ably supported by Ruth who is a very fine pianist indeed and she was mentioned especially admiringly by a member of the Club that I met yesterday.
This was a very special concert.