Seasonal treats from Bath Recitals

As 2016 races to a close Bath Recitals audiences are in for not one but two Christmas treats on 10 and 18 December.  ‘Not more Christmas concerts’ I hear you cry! Well actually these events are a bit special and too good to miss. Let’s explain why these concerts are rather different…

Piatti Quartet

Piatti Quartet

Piatti Quartet

1. A prizewinning quartet – just look at some of these prizes and awards:

2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, laureates of the St Martin in the Fields Competition, multiple Hattori Foundation awards, St.Peter’s Prize, St Lawrence String Quartet Prize. Leverhulme Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music, Tunnel Trust and Countess of Munster awards etc etc.

2. An international line up – globetrotting musicians

A quick glance through the biographies of this international crew lists Canada, USA, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Germany, Spain, France and the UK as places on the world map where they have performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles.

3. A String Quartet – plus one

The Piatti are joined by guest cellist Ella Rundle for “perhaps the most beautiful piece of chamber music ever composed” (The Telegraph) with Franz Schubert’s magnificent Quintet in C major. A passionate chamber musician, Ella is also a member of the cello octet Cellophony.

Ella Rundle

Ella Rundle

“Rundle gave it with unfazed expertise”

“played with infectious passion”

“Just blows you away… thrown off with terrific panache”

Experience the wonderful Piatti Quartet with Ella Rundle at the Old Theatre Royal on 10 December in a programme of Haydn, Bridge, Hawkins and Schubert.


A week later Belinda Sykes & Joglaresa make a welcome return to Bath – this time at Bath’s famous Pump Room on 18 December. So what’s so special about this group?



1. An all female musical group?

Yes – the five female voices and instrumentalist that make up Joglaresa celebrate Yule with Christmas lullabies, nowells, medieval chants and wassails accompanied by fidel, harp, dulcimer and percussion.

2. What’s this about Nunnes and Roses?

One of the medieval caroles they will be performing is called Nuns Sing of a Rose – a ballad of illicit love and villainous seducers!

3. So is this just an evening of medieval music?

Not at all – Joglaresa use their combined experiences and upbringings drenched in traditional Celtic, English, Maghrebi, Balkan and Middle Eastern music to connect ancient and traditional music and communicate it in a fun, authentic and interesting way.

“magic and menace”

“compulsive rhythmic energy”

“Joglaresa are at the forefront…”

“sound scholarship, a combined experience of musical cultures, and spirited delivery”

Join in with Joglaresa’s inimitable energy, irrepressible cheeriness, rebellion and seasonal yuletide fun on 18 December at the Pump Room. Tickets £5-£15

Franz Schubert

Is this the most beautiful piece of chamber music ever composed?

On 10 December the Piatti Quartet will be joined by guest cellist Ella Rundle for a performance of Schubert’s String Quintet.

But what makes this work so special?

His String Quintet in C major is perhaps the most beautiful piece of chamber music ever composed” The Telegraph

When he died aged 31 in 1828, Schubert left nearly 1,000 compositions. All are marked by his distinctive genius and his short, prolific career changed the course of musical history. Yet he had only one public concert of his music during his lifetime and it was decades before his achievement began to be recognised.

2012 saw BBC Radio 3 celebrate the 215th anniversary of his birth with ‘The Spirit of Schubert’. As part of the coverage, The Guardian asked prominent musicians to pick their favourite work by Schubert – and three of them chose the C Major String Quintet. Here’s what they said:

Marin Alsop, conductor

Marin Alsop

“Easily my favourite piece is his last chamber work, the String Quintet in C major, featuring two cellos. With both my parents string players, and as a violinist myself, I grew up playing the piece with family and friends. What always struck me was the transcendental and spectacular moment when the melody breaks out in the cellos. Later, while I was a student, we would often put on marathon chamber music evenings that would last all night, with the ensembles growing in size. These were some of the most fun evenings of my life. For me the Quintet will always represent youth, friendship and the warmth of the shared experience.”

Ian Bostridge, tenor

Ian Bostridge

“It has to be the Schubert Quintet in C major, one of the extraordinary works from the last 18 months of his life. It contains the most wonderful use of layering and harmonies. The unusual collection of instruments (three violins, viola and two cellos) means the second cello can liberate the other, so it’s not always having to hold the bassline. After the depth of the first movement, there’s a serene second movement, and then typical eruptions of ferocity. The last movement goes into a different place, a more relentlessly jolly one – but you get the sense that he has to make an effort to get there.”

Natalie Clein, cellist

Natalie Clein

“There are at least five works I couldn’t live without, but from a playing point of view I’d pick the Quintet in C major. I’m often asked to join string quartets to play the second cello part. You play at the very bass of the piece, and yet he lets the second cello really sing. He was the most harmonically sensitive composer, seeing a kaleidoscope of colours where most composers see one.

The second theme is in a major key, and yet it’s utterly heartbreaking; Schubert manages to be at his most touching and ephemeral in major keys. The same theme comes back in the last movement after a wild Viennesse whirl of a dance, as if he’s bringing back the ghost of the first movement: it’s like a dream of a dream. I often think of him in terms of semi-consciousness or another spiritual level. I first got to know this work at 16, and remember being struck by something deeply spiritual, a kind of wisdom I hadn’t come across before.”

Piatti Quartet

Piatti Quartet

Hear the prizewinning Piatti Quartet perform Schubert’s String Quintet alongside works by Bridge, Hawkins and Haydn on 10 December in Bath’s atmospheric Old Theatre Royal.

“Musically compelling …”  The Strad

Meet composer John Hawkins

When the Piatti Quartet perform at the Old Theatre Royal on 10 December they will be including something rather special – an exciting new two movement quartet by British composer, John Hawkins.

‘Hawkins writes in a sound-language which can be enjoyable and even compelling, ensuring communication at a first hearing.’ 

John Hawkins

John Hawkins

Fuzon is the name of John Hawkin’s seven-minute quartet which was inspired by William Blake (1757 – 1827) who wrote, engraved, painted and printed many extraordinary and prophetic works.  In The Book of Ahania Fuzon is the rebellious fourth and final son of Urizen – the embodiment of conventional reason and law. Associated with the classical element of fire, Fuzon fights Urizen for control of the world.


A welcome addition to the repertoire’ 

Fuzon was first performed 2012 at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Click o the image below to hear a vivid performance of Fuzon played by the Piatti Quartet:

Born in 1949, John Hawkins studied composition with Malcolm Williamson and Elisabeth Lutyens. He has written many chamber, vocal and orchestral pieces, which have been performed worldwide, as well as successful music for children.

On the recommendation of conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, Hawkins wrote a large-scale trilogy on the subject of the sea which began with an extraordinary commission from the Marine Society requiring the experience of a four-week voyage to Australia on a container ship!

Hawkins has also written a one-act opera Echoes commisioned and performed as part of Covent Garden’s ‘Garden Venture’ scheme.

Since writing Fuzon, Hawkins has explored the character of Urizen further with a virtuoso piece for viola and piano which has been performed and broadcast many times worldwide. In 2007 it was extended as a version for chamber orchestra for a performance in Japan.

‘A name to remember’ 

John Hawkins signature

Hear John Hawkins Fuzon played by the prizewinning Piatti Quartet alongside Quartets byHaydn, Bridge, and Schuberton 10 December.

The Piatti Quartet

Musically compelling …”  The Strad

Joseph Haydn by Thomas Hardy 1791

Haydn’s visit to Bath – and what he really thought about the city

One of the works to be performed by the Piatti Quartet on 10 December will be Haydn’s 1772 String Quartet in C Major Op.20 No.2 – one of the works that earned Haydn the nickname ’The Father of the String Quartet’.

But what events brought Haydn to Bath a few years later?

Haydn was well-established as one of the leading composers of Europe presiding over the busy musical life at the court of the Hungarian Prince Nikolaus Esterházy ‘the Magnificent’. But after the death of his patron in 1790, Haydn soon embarked on his travels to England – to Oxford, Cambridge, Slough and London. In 1794 aged 62 he embarked on more journeys to Hampton Court, Gosport, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Winchester and eventually to Bath and Bristol.

South East View of City of Bath by Thomas Hearne, 1792

South East View of City of Bath by Thomas Hearne, 1792

Haydn arrived in Bath on 2 August accompanied by the flautist Andrew Ashe, and the Venetian composer and singing teacher Giambattista Cimador. He stayed at the home of the renowned castrato, composer and harpsichordist Venanzio Rauzzini, who had succeeded William Herschel as Director of Music for the Pump Room and Assembly Rooms in Bath.

Haydn’s description of his trip in his diary gives a good account of his agreeable time in the city:

“on August 2, 1794, I left for Bath at five in the morning and arrived at 8pm. I stayed with Mr Rauzzini, a very famous musician who was one of the greatest singers of his time. He has been living there for 19 years, supports himself with subscription concerts in the winter, and also gives lessons. He is a very good and hospitable man. His summer house, where I stayed, lies in a very lovely site on a hill that overlooks the whole city.

Bath is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe, all the houses being made of stone. The stone is quarried in the nearby hills and it is so soft that it can be cut easily into all shapes, and is very white. The longer it is out of the earth, the harder it becomes. There are many beautiful squares with the most magnificent houses. The whole town lives on a slope, and therefore there are few coaches, but there are plenty of Sedan chairs in which one can be carried a good distance for sixpence.”

Rauzzini’s showed Haydn the tomb of his beloved dog Turk, in his garden, bearing the inscription: “Turk was a faithful dog and not a man,” Haydn set these words as a four-part canon which Rauzzini later added to the dog’s epitaph. You can still see the memorial to Venanzio Rauzzini in Bath Abbey which was erected to him by his pupils.

Venanzio Rauzzini with his dog Turk by Joseph Hutchkinson, 1795

Venanzio Rauzzini with his dog Turk by Joseph Hutchkinson, 1795

Haydn also received a remarkably enthusiastic welcome in the Bath Herald and Register:

“Oh, had I Jubal’s lyre, I would sweep the strings till Echo tired with repeating – Haydn treads upon Bathonian ground! Had this place, previous to his arrival, been the seat of discord it must now lulled into peace by the God of Harmony – while every individual who has music in his soul must exclaim with enthusiasm: Erit mihi magnus Apollo!”

Piatti Quartet

Piatti Quartet

Hear the prizewinning Piatti Quartet perform Haydn’s String Quartet alongside works by Bridge, Hawkins and Schubert on 10 December in Bath’s atmospheric Old Theatre Royal.

“Musically compelling …”  The Strad

Meet the Piatti Quartet

Bath Recitals bring one of the UK’s foremost young ensembles to Bath on Saturday 10 December with the Piatti Quartet.

Prizewinners at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition and with a host of awards and recordings to their name, the Piatti have since given over 60 concerts in the UK and abroad, including many new collaborations, radio broadcasts, 2 commissions, and recording projects.

‘The prize for poise, blended tone and general lustre was ultimately won by the Piatti String Quartet’ The Times

So let’s meet the four members of this prestigious quartet…

Nathaniel Anderson-Frank

Nathaniel Anderson-Frank, violin 1

Originally from Toronto, Nathanial studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music before received his Masters of Music degree from the Royal Academy of Music in London as a full-scholarship pupil of Prof. Maurice Hasson. In 2011 Nathaniel was appointed as a first violinist of the Philharmonia Orchestra and leads the Orchestra from time to time. He is also a regular leader of the Orion Symphony and Paradisal Players. He is also an avid chamber musician as a member of the Azalea ensemble. Nathaniel plays a 1682 violin by G. Cappa from Saluzzo.

Michael Trainor

Michael Trainor, violin 2

Michael appeared as guest leader of the RTE Concert Orchestra when he was only 21 and has gone on to lead the John Wilson Orchestra, Orion Orchestra and as principal second with English Chamber Orchestra, English National Opera and Camerata Ireland. He was recently leading an orchestra backing Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at the Royal Albert Hall.

A founding member of the Piatti Quartet, he also plays with the Emergence Sextet, Arensky Chamber Players, Clandeboye International Festival, Southwell Music Festival and Festival de Sainte-Mere. Michael plays on a rather unusual 1783 Gagliano/Voller composite violin.

David Wigram

David Wigram, viola

David started his musical career as a boy treble in his local church choir and won BBC Radio 2 Choirboy of the year 1999. He soon found regular employment as a principal boy soloists with English National Opera.

In 2009 David graduated with a first class honours degree from the the Royal College of music after studying viola and saxophone. His focus on two instruments has enabled numerous concerto performances as well as recordings on several major motion picture soundtracks including ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘Treasure Island’. David is founder member of the Piatti Quartet playing on an 1844 viola by English maker, William Gilkes.

Jessie Ann Richardson

Jessie Ann Richardson, cello

Jessie is rapidly establishing herself as a successful soloist and chamber musician around the UK and Europe, having thrilled audiences with her virtuoso and sensitive musicianship. Chosen by the Park Lane Group for their prestigious Young Artist Series, Jessie made her London Purcell Room Debut in January 2011.

Jessie studied at the Purcell School, then at the Royal Academy of Music with David Strange and Moray Welsh winning the Herbert Walenn Prize and graduating with the highest honours. Jessie is a founding member of the Piatti Quartet and looks forward to recitals on the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme. She currently plays a 1741 Celoniatus Cello from Turin.

Hear the Piatti Quartet perform a varied programme of music in the intimate surroundings of Bath’s Old Theatre Royal on Saturday 10 December.  

The programme will take us from the classical period with Josef Haydn, to the English pastoral of Frank Bridge and to the current day for an enjoyable new piece by John Hawkins.

For the major work they are joined by guest cellist Ella Rundle for Franz Schubert’s magnificent Quintet in C major. 

‘For polish, you have to consider the Piatti’ Sydney Morning Herald

A double Christmas treat

A double Christmas treat from Bath Recitals

Bath Recitals presents a double bill this Christmas with two fabulous concerts in the heart of the city. 

On 10 December one of the UK’s foremost young ensembles will be performing in the intimate surrounding of the Old Theatre Royal when the Piatti Quartet bring an exciting programme of string quartets to the city. 

The Piatti Quartet will present a varied programme from the classical period with Josef Haydn, to the English pastoral of Frank Bridge and to the current day for an enjoyable new piece by John Hawkins along with Franz Schubert’s magnificent Quintet with guest cellist Ella Rundle:


Prizewinners at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition and with a host of awards and recordings to their name, the Piatti have since given over 60 concerts in the UK and abroad, including many new collaborations, radio broadcasts, 2 commissions, and recording projects.

A week later on 18 December Belinda Sykes leads the five female vocalists and instrumentalists of Joglaresa as they return by popular demand to present a Yuletide feast with a difference when their national tour of Caroles of Nunnes and Roses comes to Bath. 

This concert sees a welcome return to the glorious Pump Room with a festive offering with Christmas lullabies, nowells, medieval chants and wassails all accompanied by fidel, harp, dulcimer and percussion.

David Gregory, chairman of Bath Recitals, said: “This is a really exciting double bill bringing one of our most successful and diverse concerts season’s to date to a grand finale.”

Tickets for each concert are £15 each (£14 Discovery Cardholders). Save 20% on ticket prices when you book for both concerts in the same purchase. Just add the coupon code ‘DOUBLE’ to your basket to apply the discount.

Tango Siempre

Why you need to see Strictly stars Tango Siempre in Bath on Saturday – and how to get tickets

The UK’s leading tango company is heading to Bath! Famous for their appearances on BBC television’s Strictly Come Dancing, The One Show, ITV’s “Surprise Surprise” and Radio 3’s “In Tune”, this brilliant fusion of classical, tango, jazz and roots”  (The Guardian) will be appearing at Bath’s Old Theatre Royal at 7.30pm this Saturday.

Tango Siempre have been touring the UK and Europe since 1998 with repertoire consisting of original compositions and music transcribed and arranged from historical recordings of the great Argentinian orchestras and Astor Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango ensembles.

So who are Tango Siempre?

here is the tango, raw, intoxicating, speaking with its true voice.Financial Times

Let’s meet the four members of Tango Siempre performing in Bath:

Ros Stephen

Ros Stephen

Ros Stephen

Violinist, arranger and composer, Ros Stephen is a co-founder of Tango Siempre having recorded five albums with the ensemble. She has performed on numerous occasions on BBC television and radio, in West End Theatre and at leading concert venues and theatres in the UK and Europe.

Ros StephenAmazing.Phil Johnson, The Independent.

Julian Rowlands

Julian Rowlands

Julian Rowlands

Bandoneonist, composer and arranger specialising in tango, classical and contemporary music, Julian Rowlands performs frequently on BBC Strictly. Julian also created the score for the Olivier-nominated Midnight Tango together with Ros Stephen and Jonathan Taylor appearing in its 480 west end and tour performances

“Tango nirvana” The Guardian

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor

Jazz, tango and classical pianist, composer and educator, Jonathan Taylor teaches jazz at the Guildhall School in London and is a music examiner for ABRSM. He is also a founder member of Tango Siempre performing in every kind of venue imaginable from concert halls in Europe to tiny village halls on remote Scottish islands.

Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Equally at ease playing principal double bass in chamber orchestras as he is playing bass guitar in London West End shows, Bassist Chris Kelly grew up in Northern Ireland. He is principal bass for the Heritage Orchestra, performing and recording with acts such as Pete Tong (BBC Radio 1 Ibiza Prom), Jamie Cullum (BBC Proms) and Tim Minchin (UK tour).

You can discover the curious yet wonderful Bandoneon on Saturday.. but what is it?

When Tango Siempre come to Bath on 22 October, one of the star performers will bandoneonist Julian Rowlands.

Nicholas Keyworth investigates this curious yet wonderful instrument

Julian Rowlands

Julian Rowlands

The origins of the bandoneon can be traced back to mid C19 Germany with the dealer, Heinrich Band and its development from the older concertina for religious and popular music of the day.

German and Italian emigrants brought the instrument to Argentina in the 1870s where is was readily adopted into use within tango music.

By 1910 bandoneons were being produced in great numbers for the Argentine and Uruguayan markets, with 25,000 shipping to Argentina in 1930 alone. However, World War II disrupted German manufacturing which signalled the end of bandoneon mass-production.

So what’s the difference between a concertina and a bandoneon?

Both instruments are held between both hands and the pushing and pulling motion forces air through its bellows, which is routed through reeds by pressing its buttons.

The button keyboard layout is designed to facilitate playing chords rather than scale passages of single-notes. This is because its original purpose was to support singers of religious music in small churches with no organ or harmonium

But unlike the concertina, the bandoneon‘s buttons produce different notes on the push and the pull. So each keyboard actually has two layouts: one for opening notes, and one for closing notes. Since the right and left hand layouts are also different, a musician must learn four different keyboard layouts to play the instrument!

The Argentinian bandleader, composer, arranger, and tango performer Aníbal Troilo was one of the first proponents of the bandoneon. But it was Astor Piazzolla who rose to be the undoubted master of the bandoneon with his dazzling solos and compositions for the instrument. His grounding in classical music combined with traditional Argentinian tango formed nuevo tango, a fresh new interpretation of the genre which has become popularised across the globe.

Piazzolla and the bandoneon

Piazzolla and the bandoneon

See and hear the bandoneon in action on Saturday 22 October with Tango Siempre’s concert at the Old Theatre Royal.

Piazzollo: Master of Tango

Tango Siempre bring their unique blend of music to Bath on 22 October with a programme which includes the music of Astor Piazzolla – described by music critic Stephen Holden as “the world’s foremost composer of tango music”.

Nicholas Keyworth explores the life and music of this great Argentinian musician:

Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla

Born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1921, Piazzolla was the son of Italian immigrants. Much of his childhood was in New York where he would listen to his father’s records of Italian tango orchestras as well as jazz and classical music – and especially Bach. Piazzolla composed his first tango La catinga aged 11 and soon after began piano lessons with Bela Wilda, a student of Rachmaninoff, who taught him to play Bach on a bandoneon which his father had spotted in a New York pawn shop in 1929.

Back in Argentina he began to play in various tango orchestras and met the pianist Arthur Rubinstein who recommended he studied with the eminent Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. In 1946 he formed his Orquesta Típica, which became a platform for his own experiments with orchestration, tango styles and also composed film scores.

Piazolla lithograph

Piazolla lithograph

In 1953 he won a grant from the French government to study in Paris with the legendary composition teacher Nadia Boulanger. Piazzolla thought his destiny now lay in ‘pure’ classical music but Boulanger soon saw that his true musical talent lay in his tango compositions.

Back in Argentina, Piazzolla formed his Orquesta de Cuerdas. This was the birth of nuevo tango revolutionising the traditional tango into a new style incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. Piazzolla’s presence on the international stage was now guaranteed. Since his death in 1992, he was always in great demand across the globe as a composer of film music, opera and chamber music as well as virtuoso performer in his own right winning a string of awards and accolades for his work.

Astor Piazzolla 1963

Astor Piazzolla 1963

Piazzola’s music is captivating, fascinating, familiar yet always fresh and accessible. It’s classical influences from the baroque can be heard combined with the exotic dance music of South America, the sensuality of the Mediterranean and twist of Jazz. No wonder his music has become one of the most popular and exciting musical forms of our time.

Bath Recitals offers a tremendous opportunity to experience the music of Piazzolla on Saturday 22 October in the atmospheric setting of the Old Theatre Royal. 

Tango Siempre

Temptations of the Tango

Bath Recitals brings the UK’s leading tango company to the city on Saturday 22 October with Tango Siempre and their unique blend of music.

“A superb band…” – The Telegraph

But what exactly IS Tango?

Mention the word Tango and you’ll either think of fizzy Orange drinks, or hopefully, the exotic and captivating musical style from South America. The latter conjures up seductive dancing, flamboyant accordion playing and lively rhythmic music.

Tango show

Tango as a music and dance form originated in the 1880s along the River Plate on the border between Argentina and Uruguay. Yet its influences can be traced from a fusion of African and European cultures. The word ‘tango’ and ‘tambo’ originally meant a musical gathering of slaves – which the colonial authorities of the day attempted to ban – combined with a fusion of various south american and european music.

The dance continued to thrive in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires and Montevideo and soon became popular throughout all levels of society. The first European tango craze took place in Paris, London and Berlin in the early 20th century as dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires travelled to Europe.

Tango 1920s postcard

Tango declined in Argentina in the 1950s as a result of economic depression and the banning of public gatherings by the military dictatorships, but today the tango is thriving. As well as being included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List it has infuenced, fashion, cinema (remember Last Tango in Paris?), and even an annual World tango dance tournament in Buenos Aires. Different styles of Tango have evolved over the past century such as Tango de Salon, Tango Canyengue, Nuevo tango, Contact tango, Ballroom tango and even Queer tango which breaks down the conventional gender roles.

With appearances on BBC television’s Strictly Come Dancing, The One Show, ITV’s “Surprise Surprise” and Radio 3’s “In Tune” under their belt, Tango Siempre will present a programme of authentic tango music including works by Troilo, Pugliese and Piazzola.

“Here is the tango, raw, intoxicating, speaking with its true voice” – Financial Times