Members' Evenings 





23nd January – The London Trio



With enthusiastic applause only slowing dying away, Lucy Shimidzu of the London Trio told the audience at a Tilford Bach Society concert at Farnham Castle on 28th January that the ensemble would give them a “lollipop” (the word Sir Thomas Beecham used for an encore at the end of his concerts). They then played a piece of Scott Joplin ragtime and the Tilford Bach Society members went home humming that and many other tunes they had heard that evening.

The food analogy seemed appropriate – this had been the musical equivalent of comfort food, similar to gorging oneself on a wonderful box of chocolates or a favourite dessert.

Everything in the repertoire of the London Trio seems to be a classic that is either familiar or easily followed and enjoyed.

Starting with Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, adapted for a trio from the piano version of Dame Myra Hess, the audience then heard a Handel Sonata and a Mozart Divertimento.

After the interval, Elgar’s Salut d’Amour was followed by the equally famous Massenet Meditation from Thaïs. Haydn’s Trio in C finished the main programme and completed a programme that was pure delight to all present.

Everyone deserves a real treat every so often, and this was a concert that cheered up a good number of Farnham’s music lovers who all had braved a very cold and miserable evening to go out.

Richard Smith (violin), Lucy Shimidzu (piano) and Penelope Sapiro have been together as a very popular and successful musical trio for many years, and this was their third visit to TBS. They are accomplished musicians who know what an audience wants and can deliver a very good concert, and they will almost certainly be returning.

Ian Sargeant

29 January 2011





25th February – Due Corde



Among the celebrities of eighteenth century London were Italian virtuoso violinists lured here by English aristocrats eager to display their taste for the very best of European fashion.   Anne Marie Christensen (violin) and Amélie Addison (cello) developed an interest in these baroque musicians while they were studying at Trinity College, London and formed the duo Due Corde.  Their aim is to recreate some of the effects achieved in the 18th century, reviving the practice of performing works without keyboard accompaniment, using the cello to provide the harmonies indicated by the composers’ figured bass.

The resulting sound delighted and intrigued the audience at Farnham Castle as the duo performed works in a wide range of styles by little-known baroque composers who were all performing ‘super stars’ of their day.  Among the many sonatas performed was one by the better-known Corelli which included an exquisitely bright, singing fugue and breathtakingly challenging vivace.  Castrucci, who worked with Handel in London, showed his notorious eccentricity in a work that employed unusual parallel harmonies between the two instruments.  He is thought to have been a candidate for the subject of Hogarth’s famous cartoon ‘The Enraged Musician’.  Another highlight was Veracini’s ‘Polognese’ sonata, inspired by folk music and bringing a breath of country air with strongly rhythmic dances.

The scholarship of these two young musicians and their dedication in bringing these little-known works to light impressed everyone present, but above all they provided their audience with an entertaining and varied musical feast.

Rosemary Wisbey
26 February 2011




25th March – Royal College of Music



Since the founding of the Tilford Bach Society in 1952 a succession of Music Directors with academic connections means that the society has been privileged to enjoy performances from some of the most talented music students in the world. On Friday March 25th,in the Great Hall of Farnham Castle, Adrian Butterfield brought the Royal College of Music Chamber Orchestra, eleven singers and instrumentalists who combined in various groups for an evening of Baroque music.

Telemann’s writing was so prolific he was said to have had an output of about two items per day. His Quadro in G minor was thought to be one of his best, and it gave recorder player Isobel Clarke the chance to shine. Sadly it was her only appearance during the evening.

Handel’s Trio Sonata Opus 5 featured violinists Anne Marie Christensen and Sophia Anagnostou, with continuo provided by cellist Richard Phillips and Aidan Phillips at the harpsichord. It featured arias from some of his opera,s if you could spot them.

Handel’s Cantata Diana Cacciatrice, Diana the Huntress,  made for a spectacular end to the first half with soprano Louise Alder in fine voice, occasionally joining in close duet with a natural trumpet played by Russell Gilmour whose clear and accurate playing gave the piece a real sparkle. And up in the gallery, using the Great Hall’s acoustic to advantage, echo soprano Kristi Assaly joined in a reverberative trio with soprano and trumpet.

Telemann’s Concerto for 4 Violins was just that – four violins, no basso continuo. So instead of the usual duel between soloists and orchestra the violins weave around each other in a tight-knit delight. Anne Marie and Sophia were joined by Olga Popova and Magdalena Loth-Hill.

William Boyce was appointed Master of the King’s Music in 1755, but after his death his music was largely forgotten and is still not played much today. Difficult to believe if his Trio Sonata in A Minor is anything to go by, particularly the last movement. Played by Olga and Magdalena with continuo, although it’s the wrong period you could imagine Mr Darcy and Miss Bennett dancing coyly to the last toe tapping movement.

Appropriately for the Tilford Bach Society the last item was Bach’s cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen landen, Praise God in all lands. Not much to say really – a stunning soprano performing with an ace trumpeter, and four violinists, viola, cellist and harpsichordist all playing out of their socks. Brilliant! One comment heard from the audience afterwards, “We’re stuck in our seats; we’re just mesmerised!”

Pete Wisbey
27 March 2011




15th April – The Mediterranea Trio


Piano, violin and cello make an exciting combination and The Mediterranea Trio made a welcome second visit to Farnham Castle at a concert for the Tilford Bach Society. This event was exciting in many ways.

The choice of music was guaranteed to excite the music lovers – Schubert’s Piano Trio in E flat Major was an excellent starter with its demanding changes of tempo and virtuoso piano playing. The group tackled the entire piece with total confidence and great finesse. The climactic final movement had pulses racing as much in the audience as amongst the performers.

Haydn’s “Gypsy” Piano Trio was also well received with, once again, a very demanding score that rose to a final movement with a gypsy rondo that had everyone’s adrenalin flowing.

The final work was a contrast on more than one level. The Argentinian composer Piazzola’s Four Seasons may be inspired by Vivaldi’s work with the same name, but the similarity stops there. A modern work, it both surprised and excited the audience, not least because the final part Summer comes to an abrupt halt, unlike the previous pieces where we can see the terminus of our journey dozens of bars before the end.

This group delivers wonderful music with great confidence. Elenlucia Pappalardo is an outstanding pianist and she is matched by Markella Vandoros on the violin and newcomer Michael Wigram on cello.

Ian Sargeant
Saturday, 16 April, 2011





15th July – The New London Opera Group


Cast of The Zoo, left to right: Chris Cann, Kirsty Bennett, Robert Felstead, Paul Guinery (accompanist), Catrine Kirkman & Graham Rogers


The July summer concert of the Tilford Bach Society on 15 July was ground-breaking in two respects. It was the first of the summer concerts to be open to non-members and it was the first TBS concert to include exclusively the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan. If it had been a glorious summer evening for people to enjoy their picnic in the grounds of Farnham Castle, that would have been a hat trick of exceptional circumstances.

However, a little light drizzle outside did not detract from the warm glow felt by a very large audience inside the castle. The first half was the performance of a short opera rarely heard – The Zoo. Described as a musical folly in one act, the libretto was by Bolton Rowe, the pen name of B.C. Stephenson, a dramatist of the Victorian era.

Sullivan’s music for this piece was as delightful as most of his other works and the performance by members of The New London Opera Group was excellent in all respects. Professional singers who can all act with great confidence produced a totally professional performance. We will not dwell on the story of the opera, which was as daft as anything W.S. Gilbert produced, but there were many amusing moments and it was wonderful entertainment.

After the one hour interval for food and wine with many brave members eating outside, Gilbert & Sullivan aficionados were then well sated in the second part of the concert with a selection of songs and choruses from various G&S operas. Some were very well known and others less so. The well trained operatic voices of the five singers produced some wonderful moments in the reverberant Great Hall of the castle.

Catrine Kirkman (soprano) delivered a superb The sun whose rays are all ablaze from The Mikado that sent shivers down the spine. A portly Chris Cann (baritone) delivered two of the patter songs with great effect (I am the very model of a modern major-general from The Pirates of Penzance and the Nightmare Song from Iolanthe).

Robert Felstead is an excellent tenor and his performance of I Shipp’d d’ye see from Ruddigore was a highpoint of the second part. Ruddigore was also the opera that includes the duet in which we heard, with much pleasure, the delightful voices of the other two singers, Kirsty Bennett (mezzo-soprano) and Graham Rogers (bass-baritone) when they sang There grew a little flower. The member of the company who worked hardest was Paul Guinery, whose musical accompaniment was highly accomplished.

The New London Opera Group delivered a memorable evening of entertainment to a very high standard, both musically and with good dramatic impact. It may have been a first for this kind of programme at TBS, but will probably not be the last.

Ian Sargeant
Saturday, 16 July, 2011





29h September – London Pleyel Trio



It always gives me great pleasure as chair of the Tilford Bach Society when so many of our visiting musicians, particularly the younger ones, ask to come back. When the London Pleyel Trio came to open our Autumn season they were familiar faces. Violinist Clara Biss came in a quartet several years ago, and cellist Sheida Davis and pianist Helen Reid were making their third visit.

There’s not much to say about Haydn’s trio in A major. It’s a magnificent example of the composer’s talent and beautifully played with great drive and passion, particularly by Clara getting the best from her 18th century violin.

It’s a rare pleasure to hear contemporary music at the Castle and especially so when the composer is there to talk about his piece. Dominic Sewell wrote his trio whilst a composition pupil with Joseph Horovitz who apparently greeted Dominic on their first meeting with the words “I like tonal music, do you?”  The trio in one movement is strangely marked moderato because there is much variation in the tempi. It is written in arch form with references to a number of composers from Bach to Shostakovich. When he heard the trio, Horovitz damned it with faint praise saying  “Yes, OK, but don’t burn the rest of your music”. The TBS audience were much more forthcoming with their praise both for the composer and the brilliant performance by the Pleyel Trio.

After the interval Helen Reid played Chopin’s nocturne in C sharp minor which he wrote for and dedicated to his sister to help her play his piano concertos. It’s marked op.posth because his house was burned down by the Russians and much of his music was lost. To please a girl friend he wrote out this nocturne for her, and it was only published after his death.

The evening ended with Chopin’s piano trio in G minor. This is a powerful work and the first movement was played with such fire and drive that on the last chord you could feel the audience were desperate to applaud. There was a certain anger you could feel in the writing; I wonder if he was still mad at the Russians for burning his house. It was a great evening with three highly skilled musicians in full flow. That’s what life at the Tilford Bach Society is all about!

Pete Wisbey





21st October – Tim Lowe & Stephen Gutman


Promising young musicians who need performance experience benefit greatly when they get the assistance of The Countess of Munster Musical Trust. So do music societies such as the Tilford Bach Society because they get to hear these professional musicians at a lower cost than might otherwise be the case.

On 21 October at Farnham Castle a large audience enjoyed an outstanding evening of music performed by a cello and piano duo. Tim Lowe is a young and outstanding cellist who has won many awards and seems destined to a very successful career. An award by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust brought him to Farnham with an accomplished pianist.

The opening piece by JS Bach was a Gamba Sonata that totally suited the audience, particularly because it has echoes of the 3rd Brandenburg Concerto in the first movement.

Gabriel Fauré’s Sonata was slightly rhapsodic and gave enormous scope for both performers to display their particular skills. Tim Lowe delivers wonderfully controlled vibrato in slow passages and, if you close your eyes, it is often impossible to know where the bowing is changing.

Stephen Gutman played some challenging virtuoso piano sections with total ease when they played the Sibelius work Malinconia, a sad piece with the mournfulness delivered by the cello whilst the piano ripples away in massive arpeggio runs. The final work was a Chopin sonata that was also slightly melancholic, this being the mood that is so well interpreted on a cello.

There was a strong feeling that Tim Lowe is destined for ever greater success as a chamber musician and general agreement that we will be hearing of him in coming years.

Ian Sargeant
23 Oct 2011