The perfect start to Christmas

The fourth and final Lunchtime Concert of the 2014 Autumn Series was held at St George’s United Reformed Church with its traditional offering of mulled wine, shortbread and mince pies, and featured Victoria Buddin on trumpet and Susan Holmes on piano.

Victoria started playing the cornet at the age of eight in her local brass band and then attended Chetham’s School. From there she proceeded to the Royal College of Music, gaining a Bachelor of Music degree, and then studied for a post-graduate degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Victoria currently lives in London, working as a freelance trumpet player and plays in recitals countrywide.

Susan recently completed a Master’s degree in music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and this year has appeared in both the Albert and Wigmore Halls in London.

She is currently an accompanist and piano teacher, and accompanies the Newbury Chamber Choir, the Harry Ensemble and the University of Reading Chamber Choir and Chorus.

The programme consisted of mainly modern 20th Century compositions, and their modern fragmented harmonies and tempos contrasted starkly with the only 18th Century work, Neruda’s Trumpet Concerto with its flowing and measured movement, very much in the style of Haydn.

The main work of the concert, Arutjunan’s Trumpet Concerto was a masterpiece of teamwork, with trumpet and piano moving together in perfect harmony.

The music moves with great verve and splendour and challenges to the full the wide range of the trumpet. Strident chords and thrilling passages give way to a lovely reflective and gentle theme on muted trumpet before a frantic and exciting finale. Two contrasting variations by the French composer Bitsch highlighted Victoria’s rounded and rich tonal quality and her impressive technical skills.

The first was slow and languid with melancholy overtones, while the second was very fast with challenging, wide-ranging passages.

Victoria concluded with the Prayer of St Gregory by Hovaness, a beautiful, soft and flowing theme, very reminiscent of the music in a Russian Orthodox Church.

Susan entertained the audience with two piano solos, Passepied by Debussy and Brickman’s arrangement of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Debussy was one of the most influential composers of piano music of the late 19th Century and this piece, with its wide-ranging chromatic passages and happy dancing style, is a delight, and Susan’s playing, with her command of style and control, brought out the best in the music.

The second was a little bit of seasonal fun, a specially-arranged version with beautiful chords and a lovely sound, played in confident fashion by an excellent pianist.

The concert ended with a seasonal flavour, a Christmas melody, with popular carols inviting audience participation. Thus ended another most successful midday concert, with once again, two outstanding young performers.