The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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November 2017

Handel on the Hosepipe

Suzanne Pinkerton

 - or how The Magnard Ensemble came to Hampstead

The Cavatina Music Trust is an admirable organisation helping young musicians, and, combined with our Friends of the Music, it put on a most lively concert for children.

The Magnard Ensemble is called a Wind Quintet, which is stretching the definition a bit, as it consists of Suzie Clements (Flute) Mana Shibata (Oboe), Joseph Shiner  (Clarinet) Catriona McDermid (Bassoon) - and Jonathan Farey (French horn).  Now of course you need to a blow a horn, but it is made of brass and is usually classed a brass instrument.  Whatever.

The three ladies and two gentlemen have a positive genius for dealing with kids.  And the sparkling technique of all of them makes  it obvious classical music is in a healthy state.  And that the RAM, and the Cambridge  Mafia, are still keeping up the supply!

Yes, I had to ask who Magnard was.  It saves a lot of trouble when these ensembles include, say, one of their names, like the Buck Brass Trio, run by Richard Buck, late of the RAM. I did beg them to call themselves The Three Young Bucks, but it didn't catch on!  Anyway, it appears Magnard was an obscure French composer of the 20th century, who was a war hero, but most of his manuscripts were destroyed in the fighting. 

They led off with a quirky, fun movement from 6 Bagatelles by Ligeti, just to give us a taste.  Then flautist Suzie showed us how a flute sounds, with a piece from "The Nutcracker". followed by some twirls on her piccolo.

Now, this is where my heading comes in.  Jonathan gave us some lovely hunting calls on the French horn. He then attached the mouthpiece to a hosepipe, carefully unwound by Joseph, the clarinettist, and unwound - and unwound - to show how much tubing makes up a French horn.  Handel on the Hosepipe was quite magnificent!  And the next piece, a hunting piece by Milhaud, really showed the horn's range.

Next up was Mana Shibata with her oboe - and here's a thing I'd never realized.  It's the oboe which gives the A for the orchestra to tune. See - even Elderly Gentlewomen can learn!

Bach arranged by clarinettist Joseph (so versatile, these young people!) came up fine with this combination of instruments.

And then I learnt some more.  Both bassoons and clarinets have reeds too! Well accustomed to busy oboist Leo Duarte, whose Mum Annie adorns this congregation, I knew oboes have 2, but that was all.  Catriona played that irresistible bit with the  brooms stomping down the stairs from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" to show what the bassoon can do.

Joseph showed us how loud a clarinet can be, with "Rhapsody in Blue" ramped up to full volume, and then he played so softly you could scarcely hear. 

A remarkably jazzy movement from a Haydn Divertimento followed next.  And then it was time for a game.  Child volunteers held up pictures of the animals from Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf". The pieces were played, and you had to guess which animal it was.  Joseph was brilliant in charge - but I did terribly badly with the Duck!

And then, last of all, early Hungarian Dances from the 17th century, at great speed!

And then - at great speed - home.

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