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5* REVIEW: Masterly performances of two great works from Gerald Finley and Julius Drake

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

‘…there was something comforting in the sheer beauty of the way Finley and Drake performed’

Temple Song returned to Middle Temple Hall on Tuesday 2 October 2018 for the first recital of Temple Music‘s 2018/19 season. Bass-baritone Gerald Finley joined pianist Julius Drake for Swansongs, performing two late works, Schubert’s Schwanengesang and Brahms’ Four serious songs. A programme which the two performed at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in September.

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5* REVIEW: Gerald Finley and Julius Drake- sublimity in 18 serious songs

David Nice, The Arts Desk

Earth stood hard as iron in parts of this awe-inspiring recital from a true song partnership, but theirs was an autumnal odyssey, not a winter journey. For all their preoccupation with death and occasionally desolation, neither Schubert at 31, in the last utterances gathered together as Schwanengesang (“Swansong”), nor Brahms, completing the Four Serious Songs on his 63rd birthday, was ready to leave this earth. You could argue that there’s smiling spring in some of Schubert’s inspirations, but not the way Gerald Finley or Julius Drake saw them, tellingly placing Brahms’s monumental tetralogy at the heart of the programme between Schubert’s Rellstab settings and his explorations of superior Heine.

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REVIEW: 4* Piatti Quartet – Young Ensemble at its finest

Barry Millington, Evening Standard

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody loves a good joke at the expense  of viola players, but it’s right to be reminded what a magnificently eloquent instrument it is. The viola was favoured notably by Mozart and Dvorak who wrote two “viola quintets” (string quintets with two violas). In their performance of the E flat for the Tempe Music series, the Piatti Quartet was joined by the viola player Krzysztof Chorzelski, their mentor under the Belcea Quartet Trust scheme.

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REVIEW: Intimate Settings – Temple Song, Christoph Prégardien, Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake

Guest Review by Adrian Ainsworth, Cross-Eyed Pianist

Songs by Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn – Temple Song at Middle Temple Hall, 21 March 2018

Middle Temple Hall is an exciting, unconventional space for a song recital. Somehow austere and ornate all at once, it generates a self-contained, imposing atmosphere before a note is even played.

Its layout also gives many of the audience members a slightly different relationship to the performers. I think of most venues – especially other prominent chamber venues in London like Wigmore Hall or Milton Court – as having a ‘portrait’ shape: rows of seats roughly matching the width of the stage, stretching back a certain distance. Middle Temple Hall, when set up for concerts, is ‘landscape’. The artists take their positions at the centre of one of the long walls, and the listeners spread out to the sides. As a result, more of the audience than you might expect are close to the action – and closer to the sound.

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REVIEW: 5* Temple Song, Christoph Prégardien, Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake

Ruth Hansford, Planet Hugill

 

A classy evening from three seasoned communicators. We left the concert feeling like teenagers.

 

 

The magnificent Middle Temple Hall is a tricky space for a song recital. The singers can only see a third of the audience and so have to figure out where to look. The ceiling is high and there are lots of visual distractions on the walls. But once we have got used to that – with help from musicians who understand how to manage a space – we’re home and dry. At Temple Song on 21 March 2018, in the hands of Julia KleiterChristoph Prégardien and Julius Drakethis standard celebrity recital turned into something wonderful, with songs and duets by Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn, setting predominantly Goethe and Heine. We were also given much food for thought (albeit in a dense, presbyopia-unfriendly font) thanks to Richard Stokes’ fascinating programme notes.

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REVIEW: Temple Song, The Schumanns at Home – Sophie Bevan and Julius Drake

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

Bevan and Drake travel to 1840s Leipzig

Julius Drake must have had had a lot of fun compiling this lieder programme, which was inspired by a visit to the home of Robert and Clara Schumann on Inselstraße in Leipzig. The couple lived in this classical building during the 1840s and the visitors’ book reads like a roll call of the greatest Romantic artists – composers, poets, performers – of the day.

As soprano Sophie Bevan explained to me recently ( The Schumanns at home ), Drake had selected four songs to represent each of five of the Schumanns’ illustrious international guests, and the hosts themselves. At the start of the evening, he invited us to imagine ourselves at a musical soirée in the Schumanns’ piano nobile apartment, being entertained by some of the cultural elite of the mid-nineteenth century. As Schumann himself said of musical life in Leipzig, ‘What an abundance of great works of art were produced for us last winter! How many distinguished artists charmed us with their art!’

With such a cornucopia of lieder from which to choose, one wonders how Drake settled upon his selections. Certainly, one could discern distinctive musical ‘voices’, and it was interesting to hear Clara Schumann’s gentle melodising beside Chopin’s folk-tinted melancholy, or Liszt’s blending of fervent human passion and reverent spirituality. And, as the lieder weaved from German to Polish and back again, with diversions into French and even English, a truly international conversation unfolded. But, there was variety of expressive range within the song-quartets, too. Moreover, Bevan had remarked that many of these songs were new to her, and many were also new to me and so the programme offered numerous fresh discoveries and delights.

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REVIEW: 4* Temple Song 2018 – Sophie Bevan and Julius Drake

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An imaginative programme wonderfully performed, showcasing songs by the Schumanns and their circle

A visit to the Schumann’s apartment in Leipzig inspired the latest of pianist Julius Drake‘s Temple Song recitals at Middle Temple Hall on Monday 22 January 2018. For The Schumann’s At Home Julius Drake was joined by soprano Sophie Bevan to present a programme of songs by Clara and Robert Schumann and their distinguished composer visitors, imagining Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn, Frederick Chopin, Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz all visiting at the same time. The resulting soiree presented songs by each of the seven composers as well as taking in distinguished poet visitors too, Hans Christian Anderson, Joseph von Eichendorff and Heinrich Heine.

The beauty of the programme was its democratic nature, four songs from each of the composers with Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn showcased as much as their more famous husband and brother. Of the 28 songs in the recital, the majority were new to me, and illuminating experience in its own right.
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REVIEW: Temple Winter Festival 2017, Voces8

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

 

Christmas vocal concerts come in many kinds. There’s the austere scholarly sort that make you sit up and pay attention, with lots of counterpoint in Latin. There’s the “new spiritualism” variety that takes the familiar sound of a choir and gives it an intensely subjective, mystical twist. And then there are the ones packed with old Christmas favourites, which you can just sit back and enjoy.

Last night the eight-part vocal group Voces8 very cleverly combined all three, and even threw in a couple of American-style crooning pop songs, performed with superb finger-snapping style as encores. They are the perfect young group out of central casting, good-looking, superbly turned out, with an eye to the telling theatrical effect. Sopranos Andrea Halsey and Eleonore Cockerham emerged in the second half in new sparkly frocks, just like proper divas, and twice the choir processed as they sang, filling in the gaps between Praetorius’s lovely old carol Est ist ein Ros’ entsprungen and Thomas Tallis’s O Nata Lux with a mystical drone sung by the two basses. Once they paused at a distance so we could relish the effect of the sound filtered through the lofty columnar spaces of the ancient Temple Church.

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REVIEW: Temple Winter Festival 2017, Gesualdo Six

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

Gesualdo Six

‘Gaudete, gaudete!’ – Rejoice, rejoice! – was certainly the underlying spirit of this lunchtime concert at Temple Church, part of the 5th Temple Winter Festival. Whether it was vigorous joy or peaceful contemplation, the Gesualdo Six communicate a reassuring and affirmative celebration of Christ’s birth in a concert which fused medieval and modern concerns, illuminating surprising affinities. 

Startling us from our pre-concert chatter, the six singers, led by musical director Owain Park, commenced Brian Kay’s arrangement of the traditional carol at the east end of this glorious late 12th-century church, which was built by the Knights Templar. Then, leaving behind the impressive stained glass of the east windows, they processed through the rectangular chancel, resting in the pointed arch which connects Gothic and Norman parts of the church. The rhythmic tugs and sways of Gaudate were initially complemented by a virile timbre, though subsequent verses offered calmer contrast, before baritone Michael Craddock launched into his solo verse with a confident swagger worthy of a Chaucerian story-teller. A unison clarion rang the piece to a close.

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REVIEW: Temple Song – Ian Bostridge with Julius Drake

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake celebrate 25 years of music-making

In 1992, concert promoter Heinz Liebrecht introduced pianist Julius Drake to tenor Ian Bostridge and an acclaimed, inspiring musical partnership was born. On Wenlock Edgeformed part of their first programme, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; and, so, in this recital at Middle Temple Hall, celebrating their 25 years of music-making, the duo included Vaughan Williams’ Housman settings for tenor, piano and string quartet alongside works with a seventeenth-century origin or flavour.

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