We’ve just seen this new review of our Cheltenham Festival Concert. It seems the journalist especially enjoyed our performance of Mozarts Serenade ‘Gran Partita’, for which we were joined by students from the Royal Academy of Music, and describes it as “a superb performance”.
REVIEW: Cheltenham Music Festival – New London Chamber Ensemble and RAM Students, Pittville Pump Room
This mainly Mozart recital served to remind us that sound recordings predate the phonograph. Back in the 18th century composers like Mozart were writing pieces for musical clocks and mechanical organs – devices that reproduce the musical style of the time more accurately than musical notation.
However, the audience at this morning’s performance were not confronted with an array of mechanical instruments to listen to. The first three works were modern arrangements of Mozart’s ‘mechanical’ music, starting with Philip Cashian’s realisation of his Andante for musical clock K616, and played by the New London Chamber Ensemble.
Sally Beamish’s arrangement of his Adagio for glass harmonica K356 sounded less ethereal and mesmerising when played on wind instruments rather than on musical glasses. The Fantasia for mechanical organ K594 in honour of Field Marshal Gideon von Loudon , arranged by Martin Butler, began with a solemn funeral march, but also had its livelier moments.
Settala’s Machine, a original composition by Philip Cashian, focused on a different type of mechanical device, the devilish automata in Castello Sforzesco in Milan which roll their eyes and breathe smoke. Students from the Royal Academy of Music joined the Ensemble under Quentin Poole’s direction to produce sounds that were at times gruesome and blood curdling. In the the flesh the automata are doubtless even more terrifying.
After the interval even more Royal Academy wind players plus a double bass player came on stage to perform Mozart’s Serenade in B flat K361. This may well have been played at the Mozarts’ wedding breakfast – a perfect choice for such a festive occasion. The musicians, both young and more experienced, made the most of the wonderful sonorities and melodic variety of the expansive serenade in a superb performance which quickly banished the spectre of Settala’s Satan machines.
The Gloucestershire Echo