Park Quartet in Paris

Bonsoir mes amis! Je suis retourné de la France après un bon voyage avec mon quatuor à cordes.

If you have French friends, make sure they don’t judge me too harshly for the above sentence. After a long hiatus in news, I am back to recount some recent adventures and exciting online developments.

Firstly, the gypsy jazz Hot Club Ensemble, with which I play, has recently launched its website in all its pristine and just-out-of-the-box glory. Click here to take a look; pour yourself a glass of red wine and enjoy the ambience of 1930s Paris. . . . . . . . . .                     (and then head to the contact page and book us for your birthday party)

Another, slightly bigger, group with which I also play has just launched its website as well, and it looks very impressive indeed. There are some incredibly exciting performances planned for the coming year, including screenings of Amelie, Henry V and Nosferatu, accompanied live by the full orchestra. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for this group! Visit the Live Film Orchestra website here.

Lastly, my quartet and soprano Anna Rajah were delighted to be involved this week in a ProQuartet project in the beautiful city of Paris. Alongside the Gémeaux Quartet, we put on a concert of music by composers including Georg Tintner, Egon Wellesz and Kurt Weill at the Goethe Institute. Singing Songs in a Foreign Land is a research project focussing on music and emigration, with which the Royal College of Music has been involved. It was a great experience in such stunning surroundings, although not without its ups and downs! We owe a debt of gratitude to Heime Müller and Norbert Meyn for their inspiring and valuable input whilst discovering these fascinating works. Here are a few snaps from our trip:

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Mander ‘Da Man’ Session

U kno wut Iym saying lyk dere iz gud fings on da horyzan n shizle.

Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. Anyway, to translate: I would just like to share with you, my friends, that there are exciting things on the horizon, and shizzle (that last word is lamentably untranslatable). I joined Jane Wilkinson (soprano) and Tamara Young (harp) today to record an album of the music, and folk-song arrangements, of Louis Mander, a talented young composer from London. With a folky English feel, these works delicately bridge the gap between the rich musical heritage of this wonderful country and its exciting contemporary scene. We were lucky enough to record in a beautiful house opposite Christ Church, Spitalfields. It is the first opportunity that I’ve had to share my glorious 12-string violin (sympolin) with the world, and I’m very excited to hear how it sounds on record. More to come soon!

Recording Mander's music, Spitalfields

On another note, my quartet (the Park Quartet) performed Lutoslawski’s String Quartet on Monday at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre. It is a difficult piece to get to grips with, but incredibly atmospheric if you are willing to accept its unorthodox nature. Click here to read a delightful review of the concert.

Fortunately the Park Quartet came through unfazed in this respect – teasing out the initial subtleties of detail, before investing what follows with a surging expressive charge which was then carried over into the prolonged leave-taking with its vestigial allusions to earlier and dimly remembered events.