Tuesday 9 February 2021

Willingdon House Music: Pandemonium

Willingdon House Music - Pandemonium
When lockdown started last year, four musicians who lived together started playing regular house concerts which were streamed live on Facebook. So Flavia Hirte (flute & traverso), Ellen Bundy (violin, viola & baroque violin), Max Mausen (clarinet & bass clarinet), and Nicola Barbagli (oboe, cor anglais, baroque oboe, recorders & accordion) became known as Willingdon House Music, playing a wide variety of repertoire from the 17th century through to contemporary, including a number of works written specially for the ensemble, from purely classical to folk and beyond.

Willingdon House Music is now releasing its first disc, Pandemonium, a two CD set which will be available on Bandcamp. The musicians have put together two programmes, a classical one with eight pieces from Purcell to Bartok, and a folk one with ten tracks. [Way back in 2015, I wrote about Max Mausen's debut CD, see my article, whilst Nicola Barbagli plays with Boxwood & Brass and was on their latest Beethoven Transformed disc, see my review]

The music is simply that which the group found to be its favourites during lockdown last year. These of lovely, imaginative versions of the classical pieces with a beautifully intimate and considered sound from the four instrumentalists. We have different line-ups in different pieces, and I enjoyed the way things change from work to work. The classical selection is imaginative, we begin with JC Bach and Philidor before moving to Bizet, Haydn, Mozart and Telemann, and finish with Purcell's Evening Hymn and Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances.

The early pieces have a finely classical feel, the arrangements live in the same world as the originals, whereas the more recent pieces have a greater sense of transcription. The 'Adagietto' from Bizet's L'Arlesienne is something of a surprise, and I am not sure I would have recognised the composer, whilst Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances take the music closer to their roots as the line-up here features Nicola Barbagli on accordion! I would not have thought of Purcell's Evening Hymn for this line-up, but it shows the lively imaginations behind the music on the disc.

The folk selection is varied and superb fun, with the selection including Eastern European, Balkan melodies, Klezmer, Scottish and English tunes as well as traditional Swedish and French pieces and even newer compositions by folk musician friends of the performers.

The double album is available from Bandcamp, so you know that proceeds are going where they are needed most, to the performers. Do give the group your support and enjoy this terrific recording. More information from Bandcamp.

Willingdon House Music (Flavia Hirte, Ellen Bundy, Max Mausen, Nicola Barbagli)
Available from Bandcamp

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