Review: Matilda Lloyd and Richard Gowers, Buxton International Festival

This year’s Buxton International Festival has an exciting series of recitals by some younger musicians to complement those performances by established stars.

Matilda Lloyd, pictured, was a BBC Young Musician of the Year winner in 2016 and Richard Gowers won first prize in an International competition when 17. They arrived at St John’s Church, Buxton, therefore, with strong credentials and they chose to present a varied and challenging programme.

Matilda played two baroque pieces on the piccolo trumpet – by Telemann and Viviani – but most of the music came from the 20th century. Dotted throughout the recital were the four ‘windows’ of Petr Eben’s Okna. Eben was a Czech composer and organist with a Jewish and Catholic heritage. Artist Marc Chagall made 12 windows for a medical centre in Jerusalem and Eben chose four of them as the inspiration for music that draws on a range of sources to suggest links between colour and the natural world. Dating from 1977 these pieces are central to the contemporary trumpet and organ repertoire.

Equally the American Alan Hovaness’ Prayer of Saint Gregory has been extracted from an opera and is often featured in recital. Its meditative quality make it an ideal piece for St John’s.

More secular in style were the Trois prieres sans paroles (1994) by the French composer Jean Claude Damase. These short romantic pieces share some jazz vocabulary.

Richard Gowers given the opportunity to play St John’s organ could not resist the chance to show off a little with a Buxtehude Praeludium – and no one was complaining.

All-in-all this was an enjoyable hour, presenting music that deserves to be heard more often.

by Keith Savage