DILLE & KAMILLE Free Concert at Delft Chamber Music Festival

It is usually a blue moon that is associated with love and romance but it was the rare phenomenon of a Blood Moon that the audience was hoping to see rise above the spires and gables of the Markt during last night’s Dille & Kamille open air concert in the centre of Delft.

Continuing this year’s theme of Love, this annual free concert has become one of the mainstays of the Festival, enabling a large audience to sample or discover music that, for one reason or another, may not be available to them. The concert provided a taster for other upcoming events, as well as providing a showcase for the brilliant Calefax Reed Quintet.

Dwarfed by the towering Nieuwe Kerk and flanked by the imposing statue of Hugo de Groot, master of ceremonies Francis Broekhuijsen handled the proceedings with a deft touch as the stage slowly came to life as twilight encroached and the ever-changing lights and swirling smoke came into play.

The theme for the concert was firmly established by soprano Rosanne van Sandwijk who opened the show with W H Auden/Benjamin Britten’s wonderful Tell Me the Truth About Love followed by a couple of Schumann lieder accompanied by Martin Roscoe on piano.

As in Thursday’s opening concert, Mr Roscoe’s place at the Steinway was promptly taken by Aleksander Madžar who kicked off with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite op.7. Taking his seat at the piano in khaki shorts and a casual white shirt (the heatwave was still in full swing) his laid-back demeanour and apparently effortless playing defied the sheer brilliance of this Serbian virtuoso.

César Franck’s Violin Sonata in A Major is one of my very favourite pieces so to hear it arranged for violin and reed quintet provided a wonderful new perspective. Liza Ferschtman was on hand (of course) with her violin and backed by Calefax this was a truly memorable and original rendition. Loved it.

I was not familiar with the Calefax Reed Quartet so I checked them out on YouTube before this concert and consequently was very much looking forward to hearing them live. To say I was not disappointed would be an understatement. There is something very satisfying in this unique, eccentric even, blend of instruments. It has a warm embracing sound that simultaneously comforts and stimulates and make you sit up in your chair and listen. Their repertoire is extensive and varied and each piece was as good as the one before, so every tune was a highlight and therefore impossible to pick a favourite. A random mention of tunes from the set would include Moondog’s New Amsterdam (in which they also demonstrated their vocal prowess), César Franck’s Prelude, Fugue and Variations and an original Chinese composition which sounded totally authentic. Brilliant, and I was left wanting more, even after the encore.

I suggest you check out Calefax’s new CD Hidden Gems and, like me, have a look at them on YouTube.    Michael Hasted   28th July 2018

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Photo by and © Michael Hasted 2018