From Emile Woof, 11 December 2016:


The timeless qualities of Schubert’s music are there to be heard whenever it is played – whether it’s the 9th Symphony, or the Piano Trios in B flat or E flat, or his final 3 String Quartets, or the heavenly String Quintet in C, D956. The indescribable magic that Schubert’s music evokes, resides in full measure in another genre that has so far been neglected at our concerts – his songs!

In his extraordinary book The Story of San Michelle, Axel Munthe devotes a brief chapter to Schubert’s lieder, which includes this passage:

“But if ever I learn to hold on to this boisterous Pegasus I mean to sing a humble song to my beloved Schubert, the greatest singer of all times, to thank him for what I owe him. I owe him everything. Even when I was lying week after week in the dark with little hope ever to get out of it, I used to hum to myself one after another of his songs, like the schoolboy who goes whistling through the dark forest to pretend that he is not afraid.

He was thirty-one when he died, wretchedly poor as he had lived. He who had written “An die Musik” had not even a piano of his own! After his death all his earthly belongings, his clothes, his few books, his bed were sold at auction for sixty-three florins. In a dilapidated bag under his bed were found a score of other immortal songs more worth than all the gold of the Rothschilds in their Vienna where he lived and died.”

Our first concert of 2017

On Saturday, January 28th 2017, at 7 pm, baritone John Barker, accompanied by his wife, pianist Helen Cawthorne, will perform a uniquely compiled programme that includes several of Schubert’s greatest and most loved lieder.

Anita and I initially met John and Helen through an introductory recommendation from friend and colleague Martino Tirimo, who is well known to most of you through his Rosamunde Piano Trio. Anita and I have since listened, rapt, to the beauty of John’s baritone voice and the sensitive artistry of Helen’s accompaniment.

With over six hundred Schubert songs to choose from, John and Helen kindly agreed to include several of my personal favourites. The cornerstones of their programme are selections from the three great song-cycles, “Die Schöne Müllerin”, “Winterreisse” and “Schwanengesang”. These will be enthralling reminders for some of you and, for others, a temptation to further exploration. They are wonderful songs, and they are well able to stand apart from their larger song-cycle context.

Apart from these selections, John and Helen will include some popular gems such as “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”), “An Silvia” and more rarely heard treasures such as “Auf dem Wasser zu singen” (“to be sung on the water”) and “Dass sie hier gewesen” (“That she was here”).

As usual, the recommended donation of £30 per place includes a delicious buffet supper and wine after the concert, which will begin at 7 pm sharp. (£25 without supper.)

Please visit our Events page for full details of how to book.