Award-winning guitarist joins exciting violin duo to wow Ribble Valley audience

Retorica and Martin Fogel. Photo by Ken Geddes.
Retorica and Martin Fogel. Photo by Ken Geddes.

Add an award-winning international guitarist to two award-winning international violinists and you might expect a memorable concert, writes Ken Geddes.


And a recent Wednesday night’s Clitheroe Concerts Society with Retoric Plus will be remembered by the audience for a very long time.

Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo met at the Royal Academy of Music and eventually formed the violin duo Retorica in 2010. David Matthews, the British composer, said “both are exceptional young violinists; together they have an instinctive rapport which makes them one of the most exciting duos around”.

They have been awarded the Fellowship of the RAM for Services to Music. Martin Fogel is an expert on Japanese guitar music, especially the work of Toru Takemitsu and was also awarded the Fellowship of the RAM. Martin arranged many of the works played at Clitheroe for guitar where originally a harpsichord or piano would have been used.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Trio Sonata started the concert. This was written at the time when Baroque music was changing to what we now know as classical music. Then on to the Gulliver Suite by Telemann, causing a sensation when it was first played. Each piece of music is a dance following the travels of Gulliver and lasted only a few seconds. A lot of fun - and again written at the transition time. J S Bach’s Trio Sonata in D minor completed the first half of the concert.

The first work after the interval was Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for two violins dating from 1932. Tougher listening perhaps, but played with astonishing clarity and accuracy by Harriet and Philippa. Especially interesting, as Sergei’s grandson Gabriel Prokofiev’s Sonata for two violins was played at Clitheroe by Harriet and Philippa, shortly after its premier by them at Lancaster in 2014.

The concert then turned to Shostakovich’s Five Pieces (1935), originally written for two violins and piano but arranged by Martin for the guitar. This was Shostakovich in a jolly mood, delightful music full of sunshine and melody. The concert ended with Pablo de Sarasate’s Navarra from 1889. Glorious dancing music, showcasing the astonishing skill of the two violinists and leaving the audience wanting to dance themselves!

The next concert will be on December 6th with the brass quartet Bella Tromba playing music heard at Christmas. Starting from baroque church music with Monteverdi and Gesualdo, they continue with modern, 2017-composed music by Peter Longworth and Becca Toft. They visit classical works and carols of Holst, Enescu, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak - and end at the Christmas shows with Nacio Herb Brown, Bart Howard and Jerome Kern. Advance tickets online from the Platform Gallery or www.clitheroeconcerts.org , or on the door are £15 but bargain prices for joining the Society are still availlable.