T’weed trio hit the high notes

HAWICK MUSIC LIVE: Despite the sudden arrival of wintry conditions, there was an encouraging audience for Hawick Music Live’s concert by Tenacious T’weed in Tower Mill on Sunday afternoon, December 2. The trio comprised: Rebecca Humphreys, clarinet, Alexa Mason, soprano and Christopher Baxter, piano. They began their concert with the delightful Schubert’s ‘The Shepherd on the Rock’ which immediately established the remarkable clarinet skills of Rebecca, and the singing of Alex, ably accompanied by Christopher.

Herbert Howells’ ‘In Greenways’ produced some modern interesting chords, and was an acquired taste, as was William Walton’s ‘Three Songs from Façade’. It’s strange how French composers have an affinity with wind instruments, and Francis Poulenc’s ‘Sonata for Clarinet and Piano’ provided a splendid example. Rebecca announced that this was her favourite piece, which was obvious by her sheer enthusiasm as she demonstrated the full range of the instrument.

Having one Hawick composer on a concert programme is a rare event, but two is exceptional! Piano pieces by Francis George Scott and Sir John Blackwood McEwen played sensitively by Christopher were probably the first time they’ve been heard in Hawick. J.B McEwen’s ‘Four Sketches for Piano’ was a complement to the McEwen Exhibition to be held in the Heritage Hub during January.

The final item was three folk songs by John McCabe which finished off with a rousing arrangement of ‘John Peel’. Whether it’s the way in which modern sopranos are trained, but they all seem to suffer from a desire to sing at full-volume at the expense of their diction. I was reminded of the famous Hawick soprano Dame Isobel Baillie who entitled her autobiography ‘Never Sing Louder Than Lovely’ – good advice for aspiring young sopranos.

Hawick Music Live’s next venture is the opening of the McEwen Exhibition on Saturday January 5 at 12pm in Heritage Hub, Hawick when Andrew Sherwood, violin and Jim Letham, piano will play excerpts from McEwen’s music.