Preview: Chipping Campden Prepares for its Musical Spring


Preview: Chipping Campden Prepares for its Musical Spring

British people have two pleasures to look forward to in May: the General Election on Thursday7th and the Chipping Campden Music Festival which starts on Sunday 10th and runs until 23rd. This will be the fourteenth Festival and regular visitors to this attractive Cotswold town will know exactly what to expect: high quality music making from leading musicians in the pleasing acoustic and attractive environment of St James’ Church.

 A large number of the performers are regulars to Chipping Campden, which is close to Stratford upon Avon, but there are some newcomers. The Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin will join the Takacs Quartet in Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor. And the exciting young Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud will play Schubert piano trios with Festival stalwarts Imogen Cooper and Adrian Brendel. Soprano Caroline Sampson will be making her debut in a themed recital entitled Fleurs with the accomplished accompanist Joseph Middleton.

 Stile Antico provide the early music component this year with music from the courts of Habsburg Emperors Maximilan, Charles V and Philip II. The English Concert directed by Harry Pickett will be performing gems by Purcell and Handel with the help of soprano Sophie Bevan and Katherina Spreckelsen (oboe). The piano is well represented again with recitals by Steven Osborne, Paul Lewis and Richard Goode, and another distinguished pianist, Martin Roscoe, partners Tasmin Little in three Beethoven violin sonatas.

 Music on a larger scale will be provided by the Chipping Campden Festival Academy Wind Soloists playing Mozart’s Serenade for 13 Winds and Dvorak’s Wind Serenade in D minor. Three concerts will follow by the Festival Academy Orchestra, a blend of experienced musicians and recent graduates, under the baton of Thomas Hull in which the soloists are Paul Lewis (Schumann’s Piano Concerto), Jack Liebeck and Adrian Brendel (Brahms’ Double Concerto) and Ruth Rogers (Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto). A voice master class led by David Pollard and an interview with pianist/writer Susan Tomes complete the main programme.

 There’s an attractive line-up of young artists for the (much less expensive) lunch-time recitals, starting with the Bute Clarinet Quartet from Cardiff with a fairly contemporary programme. They are followed by Commonwealth Musician of the Year Huw Wiggin (saxophone) with James Sherlock (piano). Another Commonwealth Musician of the Year, Jayson Gillam, will be giving a piano recital later in the Festival. I note that the Peacock Ensemble (four voices, two pianists) have been coached by the Prince Consort which augurs well for their contribution. There will be more song from the colourfully named Papagena, an all female a capella group which will provide an eclectic mix of music from the medieval period onwards. The baritone Benjamin Appl has already garnered plaudits and his all Schumann recital with pianist James Cheung looks very inviting. There is a question mark over the remaining lunchtime recital, but all will become clearer in March when the winners of the Royal College of Music’s String Quartet Competition are announced.

 If your interests extend to literature you might consider arriving a week early to take in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Chipping Campden Literature Festival.

For full details of the programme consult the website The Literature Festival details are available on


Roger Jones


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