22nd September 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Fancytunes go down very well in Yell

BY John Tonner

THE EAGERLY awaited second home appearance by the Fancytunes musicians from Yell took place in the North Ness Hall, Ulsta, last Saturday.

The line-up of Peter Blanker (vocals), Brian Gregson (flute), Meilo So (keyboards) and Clare Stiles (clarinet) incorporated the additional talents of the genial vocalist Janice Armstrong and five more instrumentalists – Alison Dobson (trumpet and piano), Michelle Grant (clarinet), Tara Payne (violin), Ron Sandford (percussion) and Robert Goodlad (double bass).

The pre-interval performance began and ended with Mozart, Clare Stiles playing an accomplished and confident clarinet to Meilo So’s piano in Allegro and Rondo from Divertimento No. 2, and Michelle Grant giving a warm, rounded clarinet lead to Allison Dobson’s piano accompaniment in the 2nd movement of the Clarinet quintet.

Brian Gregson played the Debussy standard, Girl with the Flaxen Hair, and a pleasantly callow, but intense rendition of the 1st movement from Poulenc’s Flute Sonata.

In his performance of the Vagabond by Vaughan-Williams with words by RL Stevenson, Peter Blanker confirmed his theatrical credentials with a powerful assertive delivery which took Stevenson’s narrative into the heart of the audience.

A charming and elegant recital of Bach’s famous Air from Suite No.5 in D (on a G-string) by Tara Payne, was followed by Janice Armstrong’s interpretation of Pastourelle from the 2nd series of Chants d’Auvergne by Cantaloube, in which, accompanied by flute, clarinet, violin and keyboard bass, new depths of colour began to emerge to compliment the already ardent tones of the soprano.

The sole representation by a living composer was Mira by Steven Montague. A dangerous piece of rhythmic vitality and dynamic extremes was perfectly executed by Alison Dobson.

Oriental music featured in the first three pieces played after the interval. Two reflective, almost melancholic flute solos tenderly portrayed by Brian, and a folk song, remembered from childhood sung and accompanied on piano by, the steadfast Meilo So from whom so much of the discipline of the overall production appeared to emanate.

The performance reached the zenith it had been edging towards in two songs from the Three Penny Opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. Peter Blanker sung one of the great melodies of the 20th century, Mack the Knife, and Janice and Peter sung in duet The Pimps Ballad.

With the backing of all the musicians and the added dimensions of percussion and double bass, the sound was neither muffled nor cloudy, but lucid and articulate and positively exhilarating.