LIVE REVIEW: Antony and Friends, Central Methodist Church Todmorden, 24th February 2018 

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These concerts usually feature one or two players beside Antony Brannick himself, but this time we got Carisse White and Jenny Sheldon on flute, Diana Doherty and Karen Gordon on oboe, Rachael Gibbon and Tamsin Curror on clarinet, Diana Monahan and Ben Hardy on bassoon, and David Robinson on contrabassoon. Add on David Leys on cello, Kate Findlay on double bass, and Deborah Allon, Nick Barber, John Page and Jenny Nicks on French horn and you get “Ensemble Amici d’Antony”.

The concert opened with Richard Strauss’s dramatic Serenade for thirteen wind instruments (in E flat major, op 7). David Leys ably soloed in JS Bach’s tranquil and melodious prelude from suite no 2 for solo cello (in D minor). Antony gave us a spirited performance of Claude Debussy’s piano piece “Jardin sous la pluie” (Garden in the rain). The four French horns played first C M von Weber’s lively “Der Freischutz Fantasie-Quartette” (fantasy quartet based on the opera ‘The Marksman’) arranged by A E Harris. The horns gave a hunting atmosphere (why is music about hunting generally so jolly?). Then they concluded the first half with Lowell E Shaw’s jazzy “Frippery no 4”.

After the first half came my favourite piece of the evening, including nearly all the musicians, Anton Dvorak’s Serenade for Wind instruments (op 44). This started with a lovely stately tune, moved on through lively and flowing sections, and ended with a return to early themes.

The next Antony concert is on 24 March, Todmorden Central Methodist Church, at 7.30 pm, featuring Beethoven and Brahms.