Rossini Stabat Mater - St John Smith Square
Gemma Summerfield soprano
Caitlin Hulcup mezzo soprano
Luciano Bothelho tenor
Tristan Hambleton bass
THE HANOVER BAND
Nathaniel Harrison bassoon
Benjamin Bayl conductor
Benjamin Bayl reveals the brilliant radicalism
of Rossini at St John’s Smith Square
“Rossini’s Stabat Mater may be no rarity, but it is rarely given the serious attention it deserves. In the surroundings of the Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square – a venue that more than most avoids the obvious in seasonal music – it received its due as the main part of a programme inspired by this work’s dark orchestral colours. Evoking the anguish of the Mother of Christ before the Cross, the poetry of the Stabat Mater calls for music of a distinctive tint, something the period instruments of the Hanover Band supplied.
Despite being a middle-late work, written after the composer had given up opera, Rossini’s Stabat Mater is sometimes mistakenly viewed as operatic. It certainly did no harm that the evening’s conductor, Benjamin Bayl, has operatic experience and is comfortable with voices, but he was also attuned to the score’s essential starkness and gravity. Even the rollickingly good tune of the tenor soloist’s “Cuius animam” brought to mind Heine’s description of Rossini’s “eternal grace”.
In music that’s all about texture, Bayl unleashed sounds from these period instruments that showed how radical Rossini was, and how indebted to this work Verdi’s Requiem is. But some of the most strikingly unusual effects of all are non-orchestral, for example the chorus with bass recitative, “Eja Mater”. The compact Hanover Chorus sang potently, and among the soloists the women outclassed the men: Gemma Lois Summerfield’s glowing soprano and Caitlin Hulcup’s burnished mezzo each made their mark and blended well in their duet.
But what other works, if not penitential then at least dark-toned, can preface this? Rossini’s Bassoon Concerto is a modern rediscovery and nothing very substantial, so Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B flat, K 191, received a welcome airing. A transitional piece from the mid-1770s, it may be old-fashioned with its courtly minuet for a finale, but the slow movement is particularly poignant. The 18th-century bassoon sounds smaller and mustier than today’s instrument, but, with much less silverware than a modern bassoon, is it also even more difficult to play, and the soloist Nathaniel Harrison was impressively nifty in negotiating Mozart’s runs.
These technical challenges had been signalled at the start of the evening by some asthmatic winds in the overture to Rossini’s William Tell. Yet all the colours of what is effectively an Alpine tone poem registered vividly on the period instruments, and Bayl steered this familiar music with fresh imagination.”
Pip Eastop natural horn
THE HANOVER BAND
Anthony Halstead conductor
“Pip Eastop plays a natural horn akin to the type available to the virtuoso for whom Mozart wrote the four concertos, Joseph Leutgeb. Mozart clearly did not feel in any way hidebound by the horn’s limited range of easily attainable notes…. with lucid input from The Hanover Band… these performances have a musical integrity over and above historical interest”
“Hanover Band sounds terrific; the sonics are vivid and detailed, yet resonant”
AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“He is matched by a very stylish Hanover Band… the string playing is lean, with clean articulation and punch to the accents…..”
INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
Hanover Band: Hanoverian Splendours St.Nicholas Church
ARUNDEL FESTIVAL 2013
Bang on cue, the distant crump of pyrotechnics signalling the end of this year's Arundel Festival seemed to have been synchronised with masterful precision for another finale,at the end of the Hanover Band's excellent three-concert programme.
Seven minutes into Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, the aerial display arranged for the Arundel Lido's end of festival celebrations started up, much to the amusement in the parish church. It was a welcome accompaniment, and certainly not an intrusion, as this excellent collective of musicians, playing either genuine period instruments or reliable replicas, finished their concert with a rousing performance of a work which fizzes and flares with vitality.............
The blending of brass and strings in the second movement (of William Boyce's Symphony No.5) was perfection and brass was to the fore again in the final movement, piercing through even the deep rhythm of the drums...
HERALD AND GAZETTE LITTLEHAMPTON, WEST SUSSEX
Arundel Festival Concerts
St Nicholas Church, Arundel,
August Bank Holiday 25-26-27 August 2012
Benjamin Hudson violin Simon Munday trumpet
Ashley Soloman flute Sarah Humphrys recorder
Mahan Esfahani director/harpsichord
Principal Players of the Hanover Band,
St. Nicholas Church, Brighton,
Sunday 23 January 2011
Joel Raymond oboe Madeleine Easton violin
Kelly Mc Cusker violin Caroline Brown cello
Benjamin Bayl director/harpsichord
A fantastically well played and varied programme proved the ideal way in which to enjoy a chilly winter’s afternoon. The beautiful venue with its sublime architecture and warm, clean acoustic was the cherry on the cake. The highlights were Vivaldi’s well known Trio Sonata La Follia, executed with a bravura passion and the less well known solo pieces for harpsichord in particular Rameau’s Les Cyclopes and Couperin Les Baricades Misterieuses……..
LATEST 7 BRIGHTON
Bach St Matthew Passion, Canterbury Cathedral, 20 March 2010
“I left the cathedral with that glorious final chorus ringing in my head, uplifted”
KENTISH GAZETTE, MARCH 2010
Best Handel Opera Recordings
Handel - Serses Recording
"This 12 year-old recording remains among the best of Handel opera on disc. McGegan's direction is lively, his singers excellent. Orchestral playing stylish. Only a 'shoe-string' booklet mars its re-issued format."
GEORGE PRATT, BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, OCT 2009
CD REVIEW - BBC RADIO 3 - ‘Building a Library Recommendation’
HAYDN: Symphony No. 94 in G ‘Surprise’
"Top Recommendation for Period Instrument Recording"
Jonathan Swain recommends The Hanover Band’s recording of Haydn's Surprise Symphony.
REVIEWER – JONATHAN SWAIN, BBC RADIO THREE, JUNE 2009
Haydn In Love
The Old Market, Hove - 17 May 2009
“Their performances were fresh, crisp and heartfelt.”
TALITHA BROMWICH, THE ARGUS, MAY 2009
St. John Passion, Chichester Cathedral 10 April 2009
The Hanover Band and Chorus
“…The Hanover Band and Chorus delivered a vibrant and dramatic interpretation of this masterpiece.”
“…The Hanover Chorus singing was incisive and powerful.”
“….The internationally acclaimed Hanover Band‘s accompaniment on period instruments was meticulous and sympathetic giving clear balance throughout.”
GRAHAM HEWITT, CHICHESTER OBSERVER, APRIL 2009
St John Passion, Chichester Cathedral
Good Friday 21 March 2008
“Directing from the organ, Andrew Arthur successfully drew from the performers outstanding quality, both musically and dramatically. He achieved a perfect blend of sound from the chorus, soloists and band.”
CHICHESTER OBSERVER, MARCH 2008
Those not there missed a treat
St John Passion, Chichester Cathedral - Good Friday 6 April 2007
“From the start, the emotional intensity was captured and exploited by the choir…”
“…the orchestra made the performance complete. “
“Using period instruments including a lute and viola de gamba, the players delivered a perfectly phrased and beautifully timed accompaniment of the utmost quality itself worth the ticket price.”
SIMON ASHALL, SURREY ADVERTISER, MARCH 2007
Chorus, soloists, band in perfect blend of sound
St John Passion, The Hanover Band and Chorus
Good Friday,Chichester Cathedral
“Crucify! Crucify! These stark and dramatic words from a chorus in the St John Passion vividly conveyed the horror of this aspect of the Easter story.”
“…The commanding and incisive sound of the Hanover Chorus far excelled what could reasonably be expected of 14 voices. This was choral singing at its very best – sensitive and brilliant.”
“…Directing the performance from the organ, Andrew Arthur ensured a perfect blend of sound between chorus, soloists and the Hanover Band.”
“…The Hanover Band has rightly achieved an international reputation for its excellence and deserved a far bigger audience for this superb performance.”
GRAHAM HEWITT, BOGNOR OBSERVER, APRIL 2007
Soloists shine in classical concert
Splendours of The Baroque, Concord College, Acton Burnell
“…a concert of contrasts, Telemann's music being less complex and intellectually challenging than Bach's, though both composers would surely have been delighted with these performances.”
“…superb clarity - the complexity and beauty of Bach's writing were apparent through the crisp, superbly balanced playing.”
“…Telemann's concerto for three trumpets, oboes, timpani and strings was given an equally exuberant performance.”
“ the leader of the orchestra, Madeleine Easton, played the solo part. Accompanied by just five string players and harpsichord, this was a truly chamber performance, and a fine moment in a superb concert.”
ANDREW FETCH, SHROPSHIRE STAR, OCTOBER 2007
Ensemble wow audience with Baroque giants
Splendours of The Baroque, Concord College, Acton Burnell
13th October 2007
“Directed with precision and breadth of vision by Andrew Arthur at the harpsichord, the ensemble of natural horns, baroque oboes, bassoon and strings opened with Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in a performance full of purity of sound and perfect accord.”
“… The interpretation of the lovely haunting melody of the slow movement was far removed from some of the over-sweetened versions that are often heard and the final rondo was played in perfect Baroque style.”
“…the Hanover Band soloists made light work of them in a concert which in other hands could have been quite academic but tonight was a truly musical experience which went straight to the heart.”
RICHARD DUNCAN, SHREWSBURY CHRONICLE, NOVEMBER 2007
The Hanover Band, Mark Levy and Elizabeth Kenny, Cheng Yu
and Jan Hendrickse
The Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Friday 29 September 2006
“The splendid Hanover Band opened with Haydn's Symphony No 49, accompanied Rachel Brown's delightful reading of Mozart's Flute Concerto in D, K314 and closed with Haydn's Harpsichord Concerto in D.
Mark Levy and Elizabeth Kenny's music seemed subdued in contrast but their performances of Antoine Forqueray's La Regente and a selection from Marin Marais's Couplets De Folies were as exquisite as they were quiet, with Kenny's theorbo solo, Robert de Visee's La Du Vaucel, the highlight of my evening.”
PAUL BRAZIER, THE ARGUS, OCTOBER 2006
Exceptional work, brilliantly performed
St John Passion, Hanover Band and Ex Cathedra,
Chichester Cathedral, Good Friday
“…the Hanover Band brilliantly accompanied a performance which was quite simply superb, conveying intensity and religious fervour.”
“…The accompaniment by the Hanover band on period instruments could not have been more understanding, meticulously balancing the amazing choruses from the choir.
The fresh vigour of the choral singing was consistently vivid and spontaneous, holding the attention of the packed audience throughout.”
GRAHAM HEWITT, BOGNOR OBSERVER, APRIL 2006
Uplifting Passion in the Cathedral
“The Hanover Band with its lute, wooden flutes and viola da gamba, makes a very distinctive sound and the subtleties of the score came through very well. …the dense weave of harmony was defined and elegantly turned but the acoustic there is famously contrary.”
“…The ensemble had good balance and impressive control of light and shade. This was a sensitive, thoughtful and intelligent performance of an intricate and surprisingly adventurous work.”
HASLEMERE HERALD, MARCH 2006
Those not there missed a treat
Guildford Choral Society, The Hanover Band,
Guildford Cathedral, 11 March 2006
“From the start, the emotional intensity was captured and exploited by the choir, whose balance was very good.”
Good choirs overcome such issues and this is one such choir. The opening was highly sensitive and dramatic, the fugal choruses were precise and the voices were well-timed and clear. Generally the chorales were fresh and phased well and the ending was gently and serene.”
SIMON ASHALL, SURREY ADVERTISER, MARCH 2006
Period band's startling show
M&G Concert at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford, 8 January 2006
“The Band was directed from the violin by Adrian Butterfield, who shone in a vertiginous Vivaldi Tempesta, with its eloquent Largo and high-spirited Presto.”
“…The enthusiasm of these players for the repertoire, and the instruments they play, is obvious and contagious.“
MICHAEL GRAY, CHELMSFORD WEEKLY NEWS, JANUARY 2006
The Hanover Band at Arundel Parish Church
Arundel Festival, 28 August 2005
“…And the audience showed their appreciation for the experience of exceptionally consistent vocal purity and quality of tone with a well-deserved ovation.”
Musical wizardry at Band concert
The Hanover Band – Shrewsbury School, November 18 2004
“Bach was the chosen composer and the event was a memorable experience in many ways. I doubt if I have witnessed instrumental chemistry reaching such wizardry before.
The interpretation of another Brandenburg Concerto, the No.5 in D, was outstanding, etched into memory by the work of flautist Rachel Brown, playing an 18th Century version of the instrument, the mastery of the harpsichordist Andrew Arthur, and the compelling voice in the aria of Elizabeth Cragg (soprano), who soared to new heights for another aria in the final Concerto 209.”
SHROPSHIRE STAR, NOVEMBER 2004
Portsmouth Cathedral, November 12 2004
“The Fifth Brandenburg Concerto contains one of the most stunning solo parts in keyboard literature, and Andrew Arthur proved a match for its demands.
In this large venue the small ensemble of eight performers could not deliver rich sonorities in the fully-scored passages, but here – as in the Trio Sonata which completed the programme – there was much sensitive playing.”
TERRY BARFOOT, THE GUIDE, NOVEMBER 2004
“…strings are gleaming and engaged, their woodwind sublime, their brass bright and flexible, their percussion alert.”
“…Under Paul Brough, the orchestra titled these familiar scores in new directions; teasing different colours and textures out of repertoire that listeners and players alike have taken for granted, and marrying the lightness of original instruments with a grand symphonic arc.”
“…A thoroughly brilliant and absorbing performance, sensationally conducted by Brough.”
ANNA PICARD, THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2004
A magnificent evening of Mozart
The Old Market, Hove, 23 October 2004
“…the band delivered Mozart’s Prague Symphony and Haydn’s Surprise Symphony with passion and aplomb.”
“…Conductor Paul Brough has something of an exaggerated manner but coaxes out some superb sounds.”
MIKE HOWARD, THE ARGUS, OCTOBER 2004
Sound Start to the Season
Principal Players of The Hanover Band, Horsham Music Circle, The Capitol, Horsham
“…Played with infectious wit and good humour, this work had a distinctly rustic feel to it, with unusual phrase lengths and a number of dances that were based on the use of a ground bass. “
“…the seven members who have been assembled of this concert therefore formed a small chamber ensemble of rare and outstanding ability.”
PAUL A MOORE, WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES, 26 SEPTEMBER 2003
“…an appreciative audience was treated to some of the composer’s best-loved works, Brandenburg Concertos Nos 2, 4 and 5 and Concerto in A for oboe d’amore, strings and continuo, performed exquisitely by The Hanover Band.”
“…Making its festival debut, the orchestra, playing period instruments, endowed the concertos with a light and airy quality, giving the performance freshness and sparkle.”
“…The concert began with Brandenburg No 4, its lilting use of recorders forming a lyrical thread through each of the three movements. Brandenburg No 5 burst over the audience next, its vigorous opening allegro featuring a stunningly complicated harpsichord solo and rounding off with a crisp presto.”
“…The opening Allegro provided the perfect showcase for the four soloists. A languid, mournful Andante had a dreamlike quality to it, which was dispelled by the final Allegro, the exhilarating trumpet sequence proclaiming the grand finale to a particularly fine concert.”
L.C. WESTERN TELEGRAPH , 4 JUNE 2003
“…a dazzling evening devoted to the master of that style, JS Bach, in the shape of the Brandenburg Concertos.”
“What is of interest here is how different familiar favourites sound when played this way. It was like a breath of fresh air to hear music played on instruments conterminous with its writing, and the delicious skittishness of the horn was so different from the smoother and rather more manufactured sound a modern instrument would make (and all the better for that).
“…The dazzling speed of the first and third movements were especially impressive. Here was real pace and vigour. Although the interpretation was fast and lively, the music never lost its diction.”
“…This was a masterly performance by an ensemble at the peak of its powers in a perfect setting.”
ANDY HAIR, WEST SUSSEX GAZETTE, 12 JUNE 2003
“A tuneful return” - The Hanover Band has been absent from its Brighton home for far too long but on Thursday evening it came back with a vengeance. The band, primarily a period instrument orchestra – the Hanover in its title refers to the historical period of the music it prefers to play – is a national institution.
It featured a popular programme of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, three of his Brandenburg Concertos and his Concerto for Oboe. The playing was tight and beautifully disciplined. Gail Hennessy on oboe gave a vibrant reading of the concerto and there was fine work from flautist Katy Bircher, harpsichordist Andrew Arthur and trumpet player Robert Farley.”
MIKE HOWARD THE ARGUS, 26 MAY 2003
"I heard both (Mozart's) Great Mass in C minor and his final work, the Requiem, performed in as fine a way as, perhaps, I've ever heard them done. Whether it was the acoustics of the Cathedral or the superb conducting of Sir Charles Mackerras, I don't know, but something special was happening, something that was completely breathtaking. This was fantastic, magical, life-enhancing stuff.”
“If I have a soul, it was mightily stirred. If you could capture, bottle and sell this magic, you would make a fortune. Every note of the music breathed life, not just into the works but into the audience too."
THE ARGUS, 21 NOVEMBER 2001
"Here, vivacity and joviality were the order of the day, as with Richard Egarr at the helm, The Hanover Band made a potentially dry all-Handel programme into an electrifying affair. Undoubtedly, this was largely due to such a fine ensemble's flair and consistent enthusiasm which exuded all the joys that great music has to offer."
THE BIRMINGHAM POST, 9 JULY 2001
"The Hanover Band, with its warm glowing sound of original instruments, showed an intelligent balance between solo winds and strings."
TELEGRAAF, 6 JULY 2001
"The concert was deservedly well received by the audience."
JAMES ADLAM, RICHMOND AND TWICKENHAM TIMES, 3 MARCH 2000
"Few English conductors are better equipped than Anthony Halstead to interpret the music of Brahms. His expertise with period-instrument orchestras helped to create an evening of sheer delight when the Sussex-based Hanover Band gave a memorable all-Brahms concert on Saturday."
TOM WAGHORN - MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS
"The playing (The Hanover Band) was lively: nimble string articulation, oboes quacking away like ducks on the wing (I mean that as a compliment) and sweetly chirruping recorders"
RODNEY MILNES, CHIEF OPERA CRITIC, THE TIMES, MARCH 1999
"The Hanover Band's concert of chamber works for oboe, horn and basset clarinet brought us closer to Mozart's mellifluous and often exotic sound world"
ANDREW BENSON-WILSON, EARLY MUSIC REVIEW, MARCH 1999
Warwick and Leamington Festival, St Mary's Church, Warwick
"Last night's concert from Warwick, broadcast by Radio 3, was an all-Bach affair, undoubtedly one of the highlights of the fortnight."
"Catherine Bott must be one of the best performers of music of the period, perhaps in the world, and last night she rose to even greater heights. "
"A truly memorable performance."
JOHN BRADSHAW, THE BIRMINGHAM POST, 9 JULY 1999
Bach's Christmas Oratorio -
" . . . the quality of music-making was superb."
JANE GARRETT - SURREY ADVERTISER
"Since 1980, The Hanover Band has established an unrivalled reputation for the excellence of its period-instrument sounds. Not least among the evening's marvels was the artistry and versatility of the Band's guest director, Anthony Halstead, one moment conducting the players with lively incisive movements, the next playing the harpsichord ... The orchestra responded with near flawless timing."
MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS 9 March 1998
"The highlight of the concert was Mozart's fourth horn concerto. Anthony Halstead left the audience enraptured."
JAMES ADLAM, RICHMOND & TWICKENHAM TIMES, 24 APRIL 1998
"Its programme was suitable aristocratic and polished."
"The ensemble's playing was fine and well balanced, with exquisitely turned phrases with a special togetherness demonstrated most conspicuously in the first half."
DAVID WILLIAMS, KENT & SUSSEX COURIER, 22 MAY 1998
Aldeburgh, Snape Proms - 7 August 1998
"Here was Johann Sebastian Bach being played at his very best and how he would have originally been heard. There were delightful innovations, first in his overture suite No.1 in C (sic), later in the Concerto in C and finally in a both fresh and poignant reading of the second Brandenburg concerto. Nothing hackneyed here."
" …Andrew Manze shone with his enthusiastic, expressive playing - caressing his singing violin in the gentle Adagio of Bach's Concerto in E."
"A glorious performance."
GILLIAN FORESTIER-WALKER, EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES, AUGUST 1998
"The Hanover Band's gutsy playing stripped decades of varnish from the score with sound that was full-blooded ... This riveting interpretation has already been recorded for Sony Classical - roll on the release date....The Audience was wildly delighted."
THE TIMES 20 August 1997
"These performances were never nervous or tense, which can be a problem with conductors who favour faster tempos. The playing he drew from The Hanover Band was lithe but relaxed."
NEW YORK TIMES 29 April 1997
“Blazing horns, in a bubbling account of Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture signalled the way for Schumann’s rare and virtuosic Konzerstück for Four Horns.”
BIRMINGHAM POST, OCTOBER 1993
“English group makes stunning debut…Special kudos to the first winds, including bassoonist Julia Plaut, clarinettist Gary Brodi, oboist Frank de Bruine and flautist Rachel Brown, as well as to horn players Raul Diaz, Gavin Edwards and Martin Lawrence.”
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, TORONTO, 24 OCTOBER 1994
“The playing of The Hanover Band is immaculate, the rhythms buoyant, the articulation incisive and the tempos lively without being rushed. The versatile Anthony Halstead not only directs the ensemble but also plays horn…”
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, MARCH 1993
“Uneven in texture, spectacularly treacherous in execution yet capable of a wonderful whole grain beauty when on its best behaviour, the natural horn on public display proved once again an adventure.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 NOVEMBER 1993