The 2021 City Summer Sounds festival launches with two masterpieces of Romantic chamber music, played by the resident City Pierrot Ensemble, directed by Dr Ian Pace.
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Johannes Brahms, Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, op. 25 (1856-61)
Allegro, ma non troppo
Andante con moto
Rondo alla Zingarese
Gabriel Fauré, Piano Quintet No. 2 in C minor, op. 115 (1919-21)
Ian Pace, piano
Madeleine Mitchell, violin
Gordon MacKay, violin
Bridget Carey, viola
Joseph Spooner, cello
The City Pierrot Ensemble is built around an outstanding core of musicians working at the Department of Music at City, including some who played in the earlier ensembles, The Pierrot Players and The Fires of London.
The ensemble gave its debut performance in 2017 with Schoenberg's epochal expressionist song cycle Pierrot Lunaire (with guest soloists Alwynne Pritchard and Adam de la Cour), alongside the rarely heard theatre piece by Michael Finnissy, Mr Punch, and Roger Redgate's Pierrot on the Stage of Desire.
They are resident at the Department, where their subsequent performances have included explorations of the late chamber music of Debussy, Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky, overlooked works by French composers Jolivet, Schmitt and Milhaud, and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.
Madeleine Mitchell has performed in 50 countries as solo violinist and chamber musician in a wide repertoire and discography, with major orchestras and in festivals including the BBC Proms. In recent seasons she made a solo tour in the USA and gave recitals at Three Choirs, Aigues-Mortes and other festivals. She is due to tour and record as soloist with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in November and to make her debut in Tokyo performing Bruch Violin Concerto (postponed from last year’ UKinJapan). Many composers have written works for her including Sir James MacMillan, Michael Nyman CBE and in 2021, Errollyn Wallen CBE. Known as an innovative creative director she founded the eclectic international Red Violin festival and has won major Arts Council awards for her original collaborations for violin and percussion - with the eponymous FiddleSticks album nominated for a Grammy - and violin and voices, commissioning new works.
Madeleine directs the London Chamber Ensemble including the successful recent album of Grace Williams Chamber Music (Naxos) - all premiere recordings, no.2 in the Classical Charts on release, recorded at City, and her programme for International Women’s Day, ‘A Century of Music by British Women’ 1921-2021, from St John’s Smith Square, receiving wide media attention.On Sun 27th June, 6.30pm the LCE, Madeleine Mitchell, Gordon MacKay, Bridget Carey and Joseph Spooner perform string quartets by Schubert and Debussy live at the Highgate Festival in Highgate School Chapel. Details here.
Gordon MacKay completed a Music degree at London, studying both violin and organ, before continuing violin studies under Saschko Gawriloff in Köln.
He sustains an enjoyably varied independent career across many genres of current musical life including classical repertoire and commercial work, with an emphasis on new ensemble pieces by all generations of contemporary composers internationally, creating many first performances in an intriguing range of circumstances from new concert halls, to nightclubs, cinemas and empty factories, and in site-determined performances interacting with the environment, such as amidst the machinery underlying Tower Bridge’s thundering roadways or in outdoors locations.
In this year 2020-21, he has helped keep the flame alight with live-streamed performances, thankfully on occasion also with a distanced live audience, at Wigmore Hall, Dalston’s Café Oto, and with chamber performances for broadcast from BBC Radio Theatre, whilst continuing recording recent and new small-scale works.
Important career events have included playing late Beethoven in honour of Michael Tippett at his funeral; performing Penderecki’s early string quartet to its silent composer who was clearly embarrassed at having long since moved on stylistically; and miming alongside Kylie Minogue in her fabulous Christmas Special on ITV.
Bridget Carey studied jointly at the Royal Academy of Music and London University, graduating in 1987 with a Masters degree in Performance. Since that time she has pursued a varied freelance career based in London, and has developed a particular reputation in the field of new music. For 15 years she premiered new chamber opera for the Almeida, whilst working in dance scores with Siobhan Davies and Rambert companies, classical contemporary with Opus 20 and Music Projects/London and new complexity with Ensemble Expose. From 1995-2005 she was viola player with the Kreutzer string quartet. More recently, her chamber music interests include the Goldfield ensemble, east-west fusion group Okeanos and the RPS award-winning experimental music group Apartment House, with whom she continues to add to her chamber music discography. She has been a member of Britten Sinfonia from its inception, and is a regular guest with London Sinfonietta and BCMG, among others. Beyond her performing career she regularly works with composers of all ages and genres, and also extensively with young musicians.
Ian Pace is internationally renowned as a leading performer of new music, having given over 300 world premieres, played in 25 countries, and recorded over 35 CDs. Amongst the composers who have written works for him to premiere are Gilbert Amy, Julian Anderson, Richard Barrett, James Dillon, Pascal Dusapin, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy (with whom he is closely associated, and whose complete piano works he performed in 1996 and 2016), Volker Heyn, Hilda Paredes, Horatiu Radulescu, Frederic Rzewski, Gerhard Stäbler, Yuji Takahashi and Walter Zimmermann. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music, Oxford University, and the Juilliard School with Hungarian pianist György Sándor, later taking a PhD at Cardiff University. He is also a musicologist, and taught at the universities of Southampton and Dartington College before City, University of London, where he is currently Head of Department and Reader in Music. His research encompasses historical and analytical musicology, as well as the study of performance practice, modernist aesthetics, music and culture under fascism, and especially music in twentieth-century Germany. He has published widely on all these issues and a wide range of writings on new music, especially the work of Finnissy and music in Germany from the Weimar era to the present day. Recent recordings have included the complete piano music of Brian Ferneyhough, the complete piano music of Sam Hayden, and recordings of John Cage, Volker Heyn and Horatiu Radulescu.