University of Surrey Chamber Choir & Orchestra
Maureen Galea, Margaret Roberts - piano
Conductor: Russell Keable
Desprez, Koželuh & Fauré
Nymphes des bois
Piano Concerto in Bb for 4 Hands and Orchestra
University of Surrey Chamber Choir is always an occasion when the acoustical qualities of the Sanctuary can be appreciated at their best. On 9th March we again heard the thrilling sounds of well trained voices under their conductor, Russell Keable, together with their Chamber Orchestra.
As we were expecting, this was an outstanding concert. After the initial choral "Nymphes des bois" by J.Desprez, the orchestra was joined by two brilliant pianists from the University staff in a performance of the piano concerto for four hands by the little known Czech composer, Leopold Kozeluh. Unfortunate in that his life overlapped Mozart's, but eventually succeeding him as Court composer in Prague on the latter's death, Kozeluh was a prolific composer whose works are seldom heard, and this piano concerto - one of twenty two - is recognised as the best example of writing for piano duo. Written in the style of the times being full of fast running passages between the players in the first movement, a cantabile slow movement and finishing with a sparkling rondo this performance was much acclaimed by the very large audience of 80-90 people.
After the interval we heard a first class performance of Faure's "Requiem" where the choir, orchestra, organ and harp combined with stunning effect throughout the seven sections of this beautiful Mass. This popular work is much attempted by both professional and amateur societies throughout the country and the rendering by these young undergraduates might compare well with most. Special mention must go to the soloists who, despite their youth, received well deserved praise, and of course to the magnificent stewardship of the reputable, Russell Keable.
The Koželuh concerto
Maureen Galea and Margaret Roberts
The idea of performing this concerto is part of an initiative to promote piano duet repertoire after Maureen Galea launched a biennial 4-hand piano competition for University music students called ‘Quattro Mani!’ in March 2011. It is written by a Czech composer who was Mozart's rival and successor, and is also one of the few pieces written for this genre.
Russell Keable has established a reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting and versatile musicians. ‘Keable and his orchestra did magnificently’ wrote The Guardian, ‘one of the most memorable evenings at the South Bank' said The Musical Times. He performs with orchestras and choirs throughout the British Isles including the London Mozart Players, Manchester Camerata, Northern Ballet Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Viva and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a regular guest conductor for the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, has conducted in Prague and Paris (concerts filmed by French and British television) and recently made a highly-praised début with the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest. His regular performing partners include many leading national and international soloists (including Steven Isserlis, Tasmin Little, Nikolai Demidenko, John Lill and Nicholas Daniel).
Keable, a graduate of Nottingham University, studied conducting with George Hurst and Norman Del Mar at London's Royal College of Music, and violin with Maria Lidka. His academic interests have led him to seek out much rare repertoire. He revived Dvorak's opera Dimitrij for a British stage première in Nottingham and a London première concert performance. Research in Los Angeles led to a reconstruction of music from Erich Wolfgang Korngold's film score for The Sea Hawk. Other revivals have included the British première of Korngold's celebrated opera Die tote Stadt, Nadia Boulanger's Faust et Hélène, Copland's ballet Grohg, and less-well-known works by many British composers.
He broadcasts regularly on Radio 3 and was invited by the BBC to conduct the world première of Errollyn Wallen's Spirit Symphony in the final concert of the 2005 Listen Up Festival (broadcast live from the Royal Festival Hall); a performance that was awarded the Radio 3 Listeners' Award as part of the 2005 British Composer Awards.
For 26 years he has been associated with Kensington Symphony Orchestra, one of the UK’s finest non-professional orchestras, with whom he has led first performances of works by many British composers (including Maxwell Davies, Knussen, Woolrich, Holloway, Colin and David Matthews, Joby Talbot and John McCabe). His British première of Aulis Sallinen's Symphony no.8 was praised by The Sunday Times as a 'finely-judged performance'.
Russell is also in demand as a composer, arranger and teacher. He has written works for many British ensembles and has had premières throughout the UK (including at the Edinburgh, Norwich, Aberystwyth and Newbury Spring Festivals). His opera Burning waters, commissioned by the Buxton Festival as part of their millenium celebration, was premièred in July 2000. In 2005 he was appointed Director of Conducting for the University of Surrey in Guildford.