80th concert season 2021-2022

Opening concert: Trio Salona

September 25th, 2021. Review by Christine Colbourne.

The opening concert of Haywards Heath Music Society's 80th season was given by Andrew Thurgood (violin), Sarah Carvalho-Dubost (cello) and Louisa Lam (piano). These well known, popular local musicians were making their debut as the newly formed Trio Salona. Judging by the enthusiasm with which their wonderful performances were received they will be a popular addition to the music scene.
From the opening notes of Rachmaninov's Elegiac Trio no.1 the large audience knew they were in for a treat. This Romantic work was delivered with a rich, warm tone and all the passion the music demands.

Trio Salona

The sound was excellently balanced and the interplay between the instruments highlighted the very conversational style of the music. The Trio brought the same qualities to Shostakovitch's Piano Trio no.1, a work written in 1922 and using a different harmonic language. Again the music was intelligently and perceptively played with each instrument being given its chance to shine.

Sandwiched between these two works was a piece by another Russian composer, Tchaikovsky.. As a gift to the Society to celebrate its 80th year Andrew had arranged the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin for Violin, Cello and Piano. The much loved familiar music tripped along and was rapturously received by the very appreciative audience. After the interval came the greatest of Beethoven's works for this combination of instruments, the Archduke Trio. The music zipped along with commanding and scintillating performances from all three players.

This was a superlative account of a much loved masterpiece which captured all the various facets of the work. After this tour-de-force we were delighted they found the energy to play an encore.
Andrew wrote a short piece last year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. The very clever two part work was based on a well known tune - Happy Birthday! What better way to end this glorious start to our 80th season. It has been said that Chamber Music is the music of friends and tonight's concert demonstrated this perfectly. These three musicians play with impeccable ensemble and perfect rapport. We wish them every success for the future

Second concert: National Youth Jazz Orchestra Ambassadors

October 25th, 2021. Review by Ian Barras-Hill.

The much anticipated return of the NYJO Ambassadors, under their leader Mark Armstrong, drew a larger audience to St Wilfrid's church since their first visit to us in April 2018. We welcomed a young sextet comprising Mark on trumpet and flugelhorn, Asha Parkinson (alto sax), Emma Rawicz (tenor saxophone), Tom Morley (piano), Harry Pearce (bass) and Adam Merrell on drums. They kicked off with 'Moanin' by Bobby Timmons, a jaunty jazz tune with catchy opening bars that repeated throughout punctuated by Mark's high note virtuosity on the trumpet.

NYJO playing to HHMS

The next tune, 'Crisis' by Freddie Hubbard, brought an inventive solo by Emma on the tenor sax backed by a great driving beat from Adam on drums whose tapping rim shots, bass drum pedalling and intuitive response after each player's solos was masterful. In fact Adam's dexterity in shifting the rhythm at key moments during many of the numbers played tonight enhanced the horn and piano solos to a large degree.
The slow, dreamy start to the Wayne Shorter composition 'Sleeping Dancer Sleep On' heard Asha blow a plaintive melody on alto sax followed by Harry's extended double bass solo. Both were a welcome respite from the harder edge bebop-tinged earlier pieces. The first set ended with Benny Golson's 'Blues March', a return to the funky, upbeat closeness of the sextet and much appreciated by the audience who enthusiastically clapped between solos.

In a well illuminated St Wilfrid's Church, with new state-of-the-art LED lights beaming down from the roof, our audience caught up with society friends during the interval. Everyone was delighted to be hearing live music once again. Count Basie's 'Shiny Stockings' was a stomping classic to light up the second half followed by Tom's immaculate rendering on piano of a Thelonious Monk tune 'In Walked Bud.' We were treated to an original work by Mark called 'Tears in the Rain,' inspired by the poetic ending of the cyborg in the film Blade Runner, and distinguished by beautiful, lyrical playing from Mark on muted trumpet. The band ended their Legends of Jazz programme with a pulsating version of Duke Ellington's ' Caravan' in which Adam on drums again showed his versatility by controlling the rhythm, even slowing the music down to a hushed heart beat where time seemed to stand still.

This was a fantastic evening of bright energetic jazz played by a young professional group, musically mature beyond their years, and applauded enthusiastically by our audience. For those to whom modern jazz is a mystery and who came to hear these young players out of curiosity rather than devotion to the form, Mark's introductory remarks before each piece was a boon. He set each tune in context, harking back to an era in the mid 20th century when the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus and other band leaders and soloists forged ahead with daring compositions, stretching the boundaries of chromaticism, melody and harmony in the process.