This was the third time that Boston Concert Club had welcomed Laurence Perkins and the first time for John Flinders. They gave us a wonderful concert at the Grammar School on 21 March. This concert was dedicated to the memory of long-standing Concert Club member, Brenda Lane, who passed away on 10 February 2023. Brenda wrote the Reviews for the concerts for many years and she is a very hard act to follow. In his opening remarks Laurence said that he and John were proud to give this concert in memory of Brenda.
The concert began with Gabriel Pierné’s Solo de Concert for bassoon and piano. The piano began and John made it sound very dramatic and then the bassoon joined in and both of these instruments complemented each other perfectly.
Laurence is a wonderful communicator and told us that this programme of music was all about the imagination. In the next piece, Concertino by Michael Haydn, there was lyrical playing by John with the bassoon singing in the lower register and purring away like a huge cat.
In Catalonia by Paul Reade, the imagination really got going; we were at a Festival in the South of France and a very jolly one it was too with a lot of dancing.
Ravel’s Habaňera was originally written as a vocalese for a mezzo and I thought that the bassoon was the perfect instrument for this. At the end there was the lovely silence as we all came back down to earth.
Before the interval Laurence and John played Carl Maria von Weber’s Andante e Rondo Ungarese. The bassoon sang accompanied by the piano. This is a pseudo-Hungarian rondo but it is a lively piece and must be great fun to play. In fact, I loved imagining all those “Hungarians” clumping round and round! It made me laugh.
After the interval, Laurence and John played Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette. This was enjoyed by at least two members of the audience who bumped shoulders in time to the music! I was reminded at first of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic and then I thought that this is really “circus like”.
The Romance by Saint-Saens was a huge contrast to the previous piece, I found it very peaceful and soothing.
A further contrast followed and this was Laurence playing Alan Ridout’s Caliban and Arial on the bassoon. First, we hear Caliban, the brutish slave of Prospero, earthbound and full of anger and impotence regarding his lot in life:
“This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou tak’st from me. When thou cam’st first,
Thou strok’st me and made much of me… …and then I loved thee…
Cursed be I that did so…
For I am all the subjects that you have,Which first was mine own king; and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o’th’island!”
In contrast we heard Arial, that airy spirit, also wanting his freedom but in a lighter way:
“All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come
To answer thy best pleasure; be’t to fly,
To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
On the curl’d clouds; to thy strong bidding
task Ariel and all his quality.”
Laurence told us that he had given the first performance of this piece in 1975 in Canterbury.
Then there was the lovely melancholy Romance by Elgar, beautifully played by John and Laurence. Laurence is quoted in the Programme notes as ascribing its sadness as arising from the death of two of Elgar’s close friends who were featured in the Enigma Variations, A J Jaeger (Nimrod) and Basil G Nevison (BGN).
The bassoon is well suited to the three following traditional Hebridean Melodies arranged by Laurence, the beautiful ‘Mountain Shadow’, the lyrical ‘My fair-headed Mary’ and the jolly ‘The Cockle Gatherers’.
The final piece of music was Gilbert Vinter’s, “The Playful Pachyderm”. This is laugh-out loud stuff and the image of a dancing elephant was irresistible.
The audience clapped long and hard and there were bravos and cheers and then an encore. Laurence told us that John works with soloists and choirs but he “nearly fell under the table” when Laurence suggested as an encore Quenton Ashlyn’s “The Bassoon Song”. Ashlyn was a star of the Music Hall in Victorian times. Laurence sang the song and the bassoon did the bassoon bits in the song. It was wonderful. We all enjoyed every part of this final concert of the Season and we were left wanting more.
Laurence and John had earlier today visited Gipsey Bridge Primary School and on Wednesday they were to visit Sutterton Primary School. What a wonderful treat for the children.