Music for the drawing room

Lunchtime Concert Series, Holy Trinity Church, Wednesday, June 5. Kenneth Roberts ‘What makes French music French?’. Review by Marrion Wells.

Glorious sunshine on Wednesday lunchtime surely tempted everyone towards the beach.

Not music-lovers though. They were hieing towards Holy Trinity Church where the first of 2013’s Wednesday lunchtime concerts featured Hastings’ own latter-day Toscanini (Tosca who?).

Kenneth Roberts is well-known as a conductor, but his presenting and educational activities are probably less familiar. A taste of these in his programme of French piano music provided his listeners with a musical treat.

He told how from the Romantic era (1830-1900) onwards no Fremch composers wrote mammoth works such as the symphonies and operas of Germany’s Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms and the rest.

French musicians tended to work on a more intimate scale - music for the drawingroom rather than the concert-hall or stage.

Opening with the familiar Debussy’s Clair de Lune Kenneth led us into the Victorian drawing-room with Chaminade’s Automne, one of the few female composers of the past still heard today.

For his set on the theme of nostalgia, Kenneth chose the composer with whm he has a special rapport, Francis Poulenc, with his Pastourelle, and dance music from the little-known Grovlez and Emmanuel Chabrier, the latter whose orchestral rhapsody Espana is a TV regular.

Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies No 1 is one of the many ‘I know the tune but I haven’t a clue what it’s called’ melodies, and further works from Poulenc and Debussy including the latter’s Girl with the Flaxen Hair concluded a delightful and thought-provoking ‘I wish I’d practised more but it was all those scales and arpeggios that put me off’ programme.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Bruce Dowling and several professional musicians expressed their pleasure and wished the organisers good luck for the series.


The next in the series of free lunchtime concerts at Holy Trinity Church, takes place on Wednesday, June 12 at 1.10pm.

It features ex-D’Oyly Carte players Jane Metcalfe amd Barry Clark in Gilbert and Sullivan melodies with accompanist Nigel Howard.