“Super-subtle Frenchwomen joined by live-wire pianist and festival doyen.”
Garvey, Quatuor Zaïde, Classical Vauxhall review – vibrant chamber music for all
Three concerts, three fascinating venues, seven world-class young(ish) players, an audience of all ages and a musical storytelling event for 200 schoolchildren: this is how to launch a festival with outwardly modest means. Artistic Director of Classical Vauxhall Fiachra Garvey already has form, as the founder of the West Wicklow Festival (of chamber music), in the part of Ireland where he accommodates his schedule “to help with the yearly lambing, dipping, shearing, harvesting and all the other elegant and refined activities of home” (he was delighted, he told us, to discover Vauxhall’s City Farm). The urban exchange, thanks to the support of “Business Improvement District” Vauxhall One, is officially a hit. Last night Garvey joined the equally articulate Quatuor Zaïde to introduce a programme to a packed house which culminated in a colossal performance of Franck’s Piano Quintet.
Despite its neo-Gothic grandeur. St Peter’s Church, Kennington Lane is welcoming both acoustically and visually, with twinkling lights around the pillars and no-one in the lively audience too far from the players. A front-row vantage-point was rewarded by the incredible subtlety and sophistication of the Quatuor Zaïde. Nothing but the highest level of musicianship will do for Mozart’s G major Quartet, K387, almost outdoing Haydn in its wit and novelties. Listening had to be intense from the very first theme – one bar loud, the second soft – and the following exchanges between first violinist Charlotte Maclet, second Leslie Boulin Raulet (the two pictured below with Garvey) and viola-player Sarah Chenaf, never the same twice (likewise Maclet’s handling of the Minuet’s radical piano–forte downward chromatic line). Cellist Juliette Salmona finally got her moment in the sun here, and underpinned the chords of the heartfelt Andante cantabile with startling resonance. I blush to say I was caught out by the big joke near the end, akin to the one in Haydn’s Symphony No. 90 – a full forte cadence which is bound to win applause before the last six bars sneak in a quiet close.
Boulin Raulet’s words about the expressivity shared between Mozart and Webern little over a hundred years later were welcome; it was vital for this audience to know that Webern’s Six Bagatelles would last about three minutes, adjusting to the shock of the new where every note has the value of a phrase and weird sounds hover on the cusp of silence. The Zaïdes could have played it all again and the listeners would have been just as happy. But their return to Mozart left us wanting more of that ilk: the Queen of the Night’s second aria from The Magic Flute, arranged for string quartet by an anonymous hand less than a decade after Mozart’s death. Maclet graced the vocal line with stylish instrumental ornamentation. I can’t wait to investigate the 45-minute Flute sequence twinned with K387 on the group’s CD. The next will do the same for Beethoven, pairing an early quartet with the amazing string quintet transcription of the “Kreutzer” Sonata which I was lucky to hear in Highgate late last year.
Garvey prepared us for the love-tempests of Franck’s Piano Quintet – rooted in the 58-year-old’s infatuation with a young student – before plunging into the rodomontade and double octave worthy of a Liszt or Tchaikovsky Concerto. Possibly less sustaining pedal would have made for greater clarity in the church acoustic – strings went pleasingly easy on the vibrato – but there was electrification in the unanimity with which the team rose to the insane climax of the first movement, bursting into a stomp which could belong to the finale of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto, was electrifying. It was fine to get lost in the major-minor haze of the central Lento, con molto sentimento and the fiery finale, anchored finally by a return to the lyrical “motto” before the last heaven-storm.
I’m sure an encore was in the offing, but that was halted by the abrupt if enthusiastic applause of an audience no doubt unused to this set-up, But no matter; they’ll be back for more. If you’ve attended chamber music festivals everywhere, you’ll know what an achievement it is to win a new audience of younger listeners while not alienating the core supporters, and on its first showing, Classical Vauxhall did exactly that. If they return to hear the most fascinating guitarist on the planet, Sean Shibe, in Brunswick House tonight and Garvey partnering flautist Adam Walker in the Garden Museum on Saturday, they’ll be richly rewarded. By David Nice.
“Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov played with balletic grace and nimbleness by Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey.”
“Sandwiched between these once controversial works was the ever popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov played with balletic grace and nimbleness by Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey.
Deadpan wit and balletic playfulness underpinned Garvey’s approach to the Rachmaninov. He made the filigree glisten with his nimble fingerwork while the muscular chords of the 8th variation were well-handled. There was a cool ferocity to his big playing in variations 10 and 13, the Dies irae booming with menacing intent in the former. The dark foreboding chromaticism of variation 17 melted beautifully into rich, warm chords of the famous variation 18. Gerts milked the NSO for every drop of expressiveness here while Garvey attacked its climactic chords with passion. The finale, which features variations 19 to 24, was full of vim and vigour. Doubles octaves, lightning-like leaps and other virtuosic moments were brilliantly dispatched by Garvey who brought the piece to a gripping conclusion. ” By Andrew Larkin
Review of my performance of Poulenc’s double piano concerto with fellow pianist Alex Bernstein and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra on 9th Feb 2018!
The Ducasse trio will give the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Charlotte Bray at St.James’ Piccadilly on November 17th 2017 at 1 pm. Do come along to hear this great new work which my trio commissioned!
I have just arrived back from an incredible Chinese tour with concerts and masterclasses in Beijing, Changchun and Hangzhou! What a wonderful, eye-opening experience and I was so touched by the warm enthusiastic welcome I received from everyone I met. I hope to return to China very soon again!
I am delighted to announce that I am the artistic director of a new festival called the West Wicklow Festival. Our inaugural event will take place at Russborough House, Co.Wicklow on the 19th-21st May 2017 and we are joined by the incredibly talented Quatuor Zaide, Ducasse trio, Rachel Kelly (mezzo-soprano) and myself. Check out www.westwicklowfestival.com for details on booking etc!
Due to the terribly tragic numerous earthquakes in Umbria over the past weeks and months, the 4 chamber music recitals scheduled for this Xmas and New Year 2016 have been cancelled. My heart goes out to all those affected by this horrific sequence of events.
I’m delighted to announce that the Ducasse trio have been selected for the YCAT finals at Wigmore Hall on 19th May 2016!
I will perform on Thursday 28th May at Killruddery House, Bray, Co.Wicklow at 7pm. Programme of Brahms, Beethoven, Debussy and Bartok.Hope to see many of you there!http://www.killruddery.com/whats-on/fiachra-garvey-concert/
Ducasse trio (Charlotte Maclet- violin, William Duncombe – clarinet, Fiachra Garvey – piano) will play at Wigmore Hall on Monday 13th April at 7:30pm. Works by Ives, Khachaturian and Bartok! https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/the-monday-platform-201504131930
I’m very excited to be the first classical musician to be invited to play at the “Muisicians at Google” series on March 26th at Google HQ, Dublin. Looking forward to it massively and to meeting the Google staff!
The Ducasse Trio are delighted to play a concert to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Abbotsholme School on 5th March at 6pm.We will play a really fun programme with works by Bolcom, Poulenc, Glick, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, and CPE Bach.Come along if in Derby!!
My next solo recital will be at Castalia Hall, Ballytobin,Callan,Co. Kilkenny on 25th January at 4pm as part of the “Music in Kilkenny” series. Programme of Beethoven, Bartok and Liszt. Look forward to seeing you there!
Delighted to announce that the Ducasse Trio has been selected to perform in the prestigious Manchester Mid-day Concert Series at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester in January 2016.Look out for further details!!
At 1pm on Friday 21st November, the Ducasse trio (William Duncombe – clarinet, Charlotte Maclet – violin and Fiachra Garvey – piano) will perform at the Bishopsgate Institute Great Hall.Programme to include works by Milhaud, Ives, Strauss, Glick and Bartok.Free entry to all!
Delighted to play in my dad’s homeland of Kerry on Friday 7th November at 8pm in Siamsa Tíre!Details:http://www.siamsatire.com/event.php?id=956
Delighted to play at the Luton Music Club at the Library Theatre on 20th October at 7:45pm. Details: http://www.lutonmusic.org.uk/fiachra.htmlb..
Really excited to return to the Isle of Man for a solo recital at the Erin Arts Centre on September 26th at 7:30pm. Programme will be Beethoven Sonata op 109, Chopin waltzes op 70,polonaise “Heroic” op 53 and Liszt sonata in bminor.If you’re on the island come along!
The Ducasse trio – Charlotte Maclet (violin),Fiachra Garvey (piano) and William Duncombe(clarinet) will make their Irish debut at the National Concert Hall on August 11th at 8pm. The trio will play works by Khachaturian, Glick, Stravinsky, Milhaud and Bartok. What could be better on a summer’s evening!!
Just did an interview with Dublin International Piano Competition for their “Tempo” magazine. Keep an eye out!