“a beautifully calibrated performance of compassion and great artistry” Raphael Wallfisch, John York and Ailish Tynan at the Wigmore Hall, 25 September 2019
Ailish Tynan, Raphael Wallfisch & John York at Wigmore Hall
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Wigmore Hall, London
Reviewed by Amanda-Jane Doran, Classical Source
5 Star Review *****
The passionate and sophisticated music of Rebecca Clarke formed the core of this thoughtfully assembled
Wigmore Hall programme. Her subtle and emotionally dynamic Rhapsody, in four movements, found Raphael
Wallfisch in persuasively lyrical form. Commissioned in 1919 by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge the piece has
languished unpublished until this year. Wallfisch and John York gave a beautifully calibrated performance of
compassion and great artistry, exposing the complex and layered writing. This was matched by Ailish Tynan’s
exquisite reading of the Clarke’s Yeats setting, A Dream, with hints of Ravel.
There were more discoveries the songs of two other female composers were highlighted, not least Muriel
Herbert’s, many of which were not published in her lifetime in spite of approval from her teacher Charles Villiers
Stanford, who also taught Clarke. Seven Children’s Songs sparkled with humour and lightness of touch, followed
by Herbert’s accomplished and atmospheric The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Her bittersweet Jour des Morts connected
with the melancholy of the two Lili Boulanger mélodies of Maeterlinck, intense and hallucinatory, and sung
masterfully by Tynan, with superlative phrasing and breath control.
The final piece, Ernest Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Piano (transcribed for cello), unexpectedly became the key to
the concert. It was written exactly a century ago and won for Bloch the Berkshire Chamber Music Competition.
Initially the first prize was awarded jointly and anonymously to Bloch and to Clarke for her Viola Sonata. When
her identity as a woman was revealed The Daily Telegraph proposed that both pieces were by Bloch, as a
woman would not be capable of writing such a substantial work. Coolidge, who endowed the prize, later
commissioned Rhapsody in recognition of Clarke’s talent. The Bloch made a striking contrast, redolent with
European and Jewish folk themes. Wallfisch and York powered through this impressive work with characterful
Ailish Tynan rejoined them for encores, two moving Clarke folksong settings, I Bid my Heart be Still and the witty
Irish ditty, I know my Love.
Clarinetist, Emma Johnson joins the roster of O’Carroll Artist & Project Management
I am delighted to announce that the wonderful British clarinetist, Emma Johnson, will join the roster of O’Carroll Artist & Project Management with immediate effect. As an agent, I am always keen to represent artists who have a diverse range of creative interest and a truly imaginative sense of programme and Emma is a leader in this field.
One of the few clarinettists to have established a busy career as a solo performer which has taken her to major European, American and Asian venues as well as to Africa and Australasia, Emma Johnson is one of the UK’s biggest selling classical artists, having sold well over half a million albums.
Emma has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras in repertoire which includes all the major clarinet works as well as pieces written especially for her by John Dankworth, Will Todd and Michael Berkeley amongst others. She has also collaborated with artists such as Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Dame Cleo Laine and she directs her own group, Emma Johnson and Friends. Her recording of the Brahms Quintet with the Michelangelo Quartet was recently made CD of the month by Music Web International.
Emma works in a diverse range of genres; her jazz trio has been particularly well received by concert audiences and she has also collaborated with composer Jonathan Dove on a retelling of the story of the Pied Piper for children. Her compositions and arrangements have been published by Music Sales and Faber Music.
Emma Johnson’s TV appearances range from a recital for Sky Arts TV, to gala events such as a recent televised Prom celebrating the BBC Young Musicians programme. Emma played the popular hit theme tune for The Victorian Kitchen Garden on BBC TV which won an Ivor Novello Award. Her radio work includes Artist of the Week for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and for radio stations worldwide as well as guest slots on programmes such as Woman’s Hour and World at One on BBC Radio 4. Her broadcasts about Finzi and Milton were both chosen as picks of the week.
Emma grew up in London and her career was launched when, at the age of 17 she won BBC Young Musician of the Year followed by the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York. However, she decided to study Music and English at Cambridge University before embarking fulltime on a musical path. A Patron of ClicSargent, the childhood cancer charity (www.clicsargent.org.uk), Emma was the first woman to be made an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge and to have her portrait commissioned by the college. She was honoured by the Queen with an M.B.E. in 1996.