IT was a great pleasure to settle in at St Mary Magdalene Church, New Milton, to listen to the accomplished Nova Foresta string players accompanied by Martin Penrose on the organ.
As always, there was a very warm welcome from director/conductor Philip Daish-Handy. Pachelbel’s Canon in D was the opening number, a very well-known piece composed around 1680.
It’s hard to believe that it is based upon just eight bars of music repeated 28 times on cello and bass with the violins and violas floating effortlessly and creatively above. The precision was perfect under the colourful direction of the conductor.
Smoothly on from Pachelbel was the Telemann Viola Concerto, with soloist Robert Tuson. In four movements (in Philip’s words: slow, fast, slow, fast), the audience was invited to applause between movements, which of course it did.
The sedate melody line of the largo is repeated by the higher strings and then by the lower. The allegro wakes listeners up with its syncopated figure, then the andante in the relative minor key follows, with its slow mellow movement.
Finally to the presto, fast and exciting, and back to the tonic key. With expert playing from the soloist, beautifully supported by the strings and sensitively led by the conductor, it was a delight to listen to.
To finish the first half, organist Martin Penrose played Handel’s Cuckoo and the Nightingale from the Concerti Grossi, accompanied by strings. Avian trills and couplets were conversationally passed between the players while the audience played “spot the bird”.
The second half opened with the Tullagh Ensemble Junior Strings, a group of young players directed by Jo and Frank Handy. It was lovely to see and listen to these bright-eyed youngsters playing with such enthusiasm, including appropriately a Scottish reel in honour of Burns Night.
Finally, to Peter Warlock, an early 20th century enigmatic character who changed his name from Heseltine to become Warlock, the practitioner of magic. Wizardry or not, the Capriol Suite, his arrangement of 16th century dances, varies from the strict tempo Basse-Dance, smooth Pavane, lively and exciting Tordion and Bransles, the languid Pieds-en-l’air, to the arresting discordant final Mattachins (sword dance).
Not quite the end though, as the Players finally delighted us with the very jolly Plink, Plank, Plunk by Leroy Anderson – an extremely fast pizzicato, a great fun foot tapper to send people on their way.
The Nova Foresta Players continue to give a wonderful opportunity to hear some first class music in a local environment, with the addition of the warmth and friendliness of the musicians and their director.
Pictured from left are Catalin Chelaru (leader), Robert Tuson (solo viola), Frank Handy (violin), with Philip Daish-Handy (director).
However dark, cold wet or windy, it’s always very well worthwhile going to listen to these accomplished and inspiring players.
Details of future concerts can be found at www.novaforestaclassicalplayers.com.