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2019-20 Concert Reviews

Jealousy, Loss, Murder and Music in Vienna Woods

[Last Saturday] Shropshire Music Trust presented a splendid concert in the United Reformed Church, featuring Emma Johnson and friends, the Carducci Quartet and Classic FM presenter and writer John Suchet.

The music featured composers working in Vienna during the first part of the 19th century: Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Strauss and Léhar.

A packed house was treated to an evening of musical dexterity and improvisational alacrity by violinist Chris Garrick and pianist David Gordon known together as Paper Jam, promoted by Shropshire Music Trust at Wem Town Hall.

Peter Gabriel, The Beatles, Cole Porter and George Shearing were among the many legendary composers that featured in their repertoire as well as contributions by other composers from The Great American Song Book such as George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.

For most us, it would seem, Christmas all too often conjures up the bleaker side of Rossetti’s midwinter – a storm-tossed sea of never-ending ‘final’ shopping, present-hunting, fraught last-minute travel worries and family tension. Yet, thank goodness, there does exist another side to the season, as perfectly exemplified in St Chad’s church last Friday, when a packed audience was treated to a quite stunning and uplifting choral recital, given by one of the country’s most acclaimed ensembles, Ex Cathedra. Jeffrey Skidmore’s subtle helmsmanship steered us out of the shoals into less choppy waters, where quiet calm, dignity and sheer beauty cast a magic spell.

Mid-Wales Opera's reworking of  John Gay's Beggar's Opera in the Shropshire Music Season left me with a dilemma. If a docile young woman of the eighteenth century can selfishly refuse to murder her husband when her mother expressly asks her to, what hope that the self-centred young woman of today will help me out if I need her for some similarly murderous purpose? Must I refrain from asking my daughter to murder my son-in-law? Must I dispose of him myself? Come to think of it: Graham, you have been warned.

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