Blenheim Concerts: Harpist Hugh Webb and 'Cellist Erica Simpson

Phoebe Woollam reviews a 'most enjoyable concert, played to a packed audience'

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Blenheim Concerts


The next concert is on Sunday 24th January 2010
at 3.30 pm in the Chiswick Catholic Centre.

The brass ensemble Quintabile will play a programme that includes works by Matthew Arnold, Cecilia McDowall, Percy Grainger, Joseph Horovitz, Tielman Susato, kerry Turner,
Derek Bourgeois and Leo Pollack

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Sunday 15th November 2009

This was a most enjoyable concert, played to a packed audience.

Unfortunately, the harpist Carys Hughes was unable to play as scheduled and, although this was very disappointing for us all, it was a tremendous bonus to have the distinguished harpist Hugh Webb in her place. He and the ‘cellist Erica Simpson had devised an imaginative and accessible programme; several much loved favourites and some that we were not so familiar with.

The ‘cello and harp did not always provide a comfortable ensemble however. Hugh Webb’s playing was quite exceptional but, with the best will in the world, the harp cannot quite provide the appropriate underpinning that is required in some works. In this instance it was the opening Vivaldi sonata that I felt needed a true keyboard texture rather than harp and the Saint Saëns Allegro Appassionato certainly required more “wellie” to support the ‘cello than the harp is able to provide.

However, the harp came into its own with the delightful ”Six Noels” for solo harp by Tournier and the much loved “Swan” by Saint Saëns where, I have to say, I preferred it to the piano as an accompanying instrument.

Celia Harper’s arrangement of Four Traditional Welsh Songs was also extremely successful for this particular ensemble and sounded charming. Piazolla’s “Histoire du Tango” was another very successful arrangement (the original was written for flute and guitar).

All in all this was a delightful concert, much enjoyed by everyone

Phoebe Woollam


November 18, 2009