Drapers' Concert No.3, Drapers' Hall

Wednesday 3rd May 2017

Amongst the many charities supported by the Drapers’ Company are several music colleges with about a dozen students benefitting from their largesse. With so much talent at their disposal and one of the finest halls in the city, it’s no surprise they’ve organised an annual series of concerts for their members and invited guests. The Mistress and myself were delighted to accept Master William Charnley’s kind invite for a concert tonight held in the dining room we know so well, but now arranged with a large horseshoe of chairs around a dais in front of the window. Meeting William for champagne and nibbles in the (splendid) Clerks Office at 6.45, we chatted to several other guests including the principals of some of the Colleges and the rarely-seen Prime Warden Fishmonger Nigel Bankes (despite similar installation dates, this was my first encounter with him!). We went up to the room at 7.15 and were given ‘Royal box’ seats middle front so we had a pretty good view! The concert was of big romantic repertoire – Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ sonata; Ravels ‘Sonatine’ for solo piano and Franck’s Sonata in A major. The first and last pieces were played by Eunsley Park (violin) and Maksim Stsura (piano) with Veniamin Zhukov playing the Ravel in the middle. The ‘Kreutzer’ took up the first half and was played with utter command – there were moments I thought she was trying to saw the violin in half before it caught fire! Maksim the pianist has a very distinctive playing style, crouched with his nose a few inches from the keyboard, he hardly looked at the score and was reminiscent of Glen Gould. The Kreutzer is a huge bit of music and by the end of the 3rd movement Presto we were in need of the interval wine which was enjoyed in their elegant salon located opposite over the courtyard. Suitably fortified we returned for the second half which began with Veniamin Zhukov (I wondered if he was related to Marshal Zhukov but never found out) playing the Ravel from memory and very beautifully. Without a smile he took his bow and was gone in a trice – a thoroughbred Russian! Eunsley and Maksim returned for the Franck, possibly my favourite piece of the evening, the violin again resisting attempts to be hewn in two and Maksim striking such huge and violent chords on the grand piano it shook visibly. When the music and initial applause subsided, they treated us to a charming encore from Tais (Massenet) and then William said a few words, presenting them with bottles for their superb efforts. We then repaired to the Courtroom for a light supper of chicken with Parma ham and a chocolate / raspberry dessert followed by cheese – all delicious. I sat next to the Prime Warden Fishmonger and Katherine, the Draper’s Clerks wife and we had a very jolly time of it. I was surprised when the clock had gone 10.30pm and it was time to wend our way, slightly reluctantly! Thank you William and Drapers all for a lovely evening.