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Step out for some real classical treats; A plethora of quality events are happening outside of Birmingham this spring. Christopher Morley gives us the lowdown.

Byline: Christopher Morley

THE coming of spring brings thoughts of ventures out into the countryside, and to sampling musical events perhaps a bit further afield from our city conurbation.

But we begin with another city, Worcester, where the Worcestershire Early Music Festival offers a variety of events between April 14 and May 14.

There is a strong terpsichorean element on the menu, including a session on Baroque Dance at Angel Place on April 16 (11am), and the Pride and Prejudice Ball at the Guildhall on May 14 (8pm).

Particularly enticing is the Duo Dorado's presentation of music from the court and theatres of Restoration London. Violinist Hazel Brooks and harpsichordist David Pollock perform Mr Purcell: Friends and Rivals at Old St Martin's Church in the Cornmarket on April 15 (7.15pm). The same venue hosts The Musical and Amicable Society (named after a group who met for "practice and recreation" at the Cherry Tree Tavern in 18th-century Birmingham), exploring dance forms in baroque music (April 16, 7.15pm).

Details of all these events on 01905 611427. Venturing into the Cotswolds, St Leonard's Church in Bledington is the venue for a trio of concerts from June 7 to 9 which begin with City of Birmingham organist Thomas Trotter (Bledington Festival president) and harpist Catrin Finch (BF vice-president) on June 7, progress through Brahms' Clarinet Quintet rescored for klezmer band (June 8), and end with a woodwind trio. All details on 01608 658669.

Before that event, though, comes the Chipping Campden International Music Festival, whose president Paul Lewis and Birmingham Conservatoire principal Julian Lloyd Webber, patron of the Festival's education programme, have attracted an amazing roster of international artistes to the Cotswolds.

Among them are the legendary pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, performing a programme of Schubert, Prokofiev and Brahms in St James' Church on May 9; the equally legendary Borodin Quartet playing Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Borodin himself in the same venue the next evening, mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager accompanied by Julius Drake in an all-Schubert recital (May 12), and Imogen Cooper in a piano recital of works by Schumann, Liszt and Wagner transcriptions (May 15).

Paul Lewis himself plays all five Beethoven piano concertos with the Chipping Campden Festival Academy Orchestra, Thomas Hull conducting, on May 17, 19 and 21.

Between those dates there is an all-Bach recital from violinist Isabelle Faust and harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout (May 20), and Alfred Brendel's remarkable insights into his recently-published A Pianist's Alphabet, a talk which I know from experience is well worth hearing (May 21, 11.30am).

Details of all events on 01386 849018. Not too far from Chipping Campden is Longborough, the hamlet whose Festival Opera is now world-renowned, not least because it was the only professional company in this country to present a complete Wagner Ring cycle in the composer's bi-centenary year in 2013.

We can look forward to more Wagner this year, with Tannhauser conducted, as he did for the Ring, by one of the world's most attuned Wagner conductors, Antony Negus. The other operas in this season held in these idyllic country-house surroundings are Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Grant Doyle, who made such an amazing impact as a last-minute stand-in as Christus in Ex Cathedra's Good Friday St Matthew Passion at Symphony Hall, the eponymous hero: Janacek's n searing Jenufa, of which more in a later edition, and Handel's Alcina. The Longborough season runs from June 9 to August 2, with all details on 01451 830292. Bring your own picnics or pre-order one for the long supper interval, or book a place in the buffet marquee or in the buzzing little Coach House restaurant, where all the excellent food on the menu is locally sourced and charmingly served.

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Violinist Isabelle Faust stars in the Chipping Campden International Music Festival
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 31, 2016
Words:628
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