ROSL is lucky enough to see some of the same faces year after year at our concert series at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This year, regular concert-goer Douglas Paton gave us his thoughts on the programme.
My first visit was on 7 August at 2pm for a recital of Chopin’s Piano music by Florian Mitrea. He played a selection of Nocturnes and Etudes and a Scherzo before finishing with the famous Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise Brilliante. At 4pm, I heard Shannon Rhodes and Stephen de Pledge playing Mozart’s Violin Sonata K304 and Brahms’ Sonata Op 78. They finished with Kreisler’s showpiece Tambourin Chinois. Australian Shannon is still in his teens and is an outstanding player, fully deserving the opportunity to visit Britain and play in Edinburgh.
The following evening was the Gala Night to celebrate 20 years of music at the Fringe, with prizewinners past and present. Guitarist Sean Shibe returned to give a performance of some of Dowland’s lovely music. The soprano Jennifer Whitton, accompanied by Simon Lepper, sang arias by Handel and Korngold. She finished with Robert Burns’ “My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose”. Perhaps a brave choice in front of a mainly Scottish audience, but it was sung with great tenderness. An interval followed, with Prosecco and tasty canapes, and time to chat with friends and the musicians.
Then the Marmen String Quartet, winners of this year’s Grand Prize at the Bordeaux String Quartet Competition, was joined by cellist John Myerscough for a performance of Schubert’s late, wonderful String Quintet, D956. This rounded off a memorable celebration of ROSL’s contribution to music making.
The next day at 2pm, we heard more Chopin with Ashley Fripp playing a selection of Impromptus; the Fantasy Impromptu Op 66 and his Sonata No 3, Op 58, with its well-known Finale. A frequent performer at ROSL, he is quoted as saying the ROSL series at the Fringe is one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences.
The following week on Thursday 15 August at 2pm we had a programme of Gershwin and his contemporaries. Som Howie clarinet, accompanied by Charis Hanning played arrangements from Porgy and Bess by Heifetz. We heard “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, “Summertime”, and “A Woman is a Sometime Thing”. This was followed by Gershwin’s Three Preludes arranged for Clarinet and Piano. A late addition to the programme saw Dominic Degavino play Jazz Piano. He gave us highly skilful improvisations on Erroll Garner’s ”Misty”, Harry Warren’s “There’ll Never Be Another You” and Rogers and Hart’s “Funny Valentine”. Charis returned to accompany Australian born mezzo Helen Sherman. She sang three Kurt Weill songs; “Foolish Heart”, “Speak Low” and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself”. This was followed by Gershwin’s “Blah, blah, blah”. Her recital finished with four of Britten’s Cabaret Songs in which he set the words of W. H. Auden. She sang and, using her opera experience, brilliantly acted out “Tell Me the Truth About Love”, “Funeral Blues”, “Johnny”, and “Calypso”.
My final visit was at 4pm when the clarinet trio of the Dolman Ensemble entertained. Their usual cellist Edward King was unavailable and Leo Popplewell more than adequately took his place. This forced a change of programme with Som Howie and Carson Becke piano, playing Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata. Leo then joined them to play Brahms’ Clarinet Trio Op 114.
Audience numbers were good, especially on the Gala Night and the Gershwin concert on the 15th. Artistic Director Geoff Parkin and his staff are due a big thank you for organising the fortnight to its usual high standard.