Nash Ensemble Delight with Vaughan Williams and Dohnányi Rarities

17/05/2014

 Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Schumann, Dohnányi: The Nash Ensemble [Ian Brown (piano), Richard Hosford (clarinet), Richard Watkins (horn), Stephanie Gonley (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), Adrian Brendel (cello)], Chipping Campden Music Festival, St James’ Church, Chipping Campden, 15.5.2014. (RJ)

Mozart: Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (Kegelstatt)
Vaughan Williams: Quintet in D
Schumann: Märchenerzählungen for Viola, Horn and Clarinet, Op 132
Dohnányi: Sextet in C major for Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano

 

What a wonderful combination of instruments the clarinet, viola and piano are! Mozart’s Kegelstatt and Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen show them off to excellent advantage and St James’ Church on a balmy spring evening proved the ideal setting. Richard Hosford’s sinuous clarinet launched the first of the works with Lawrence Power’s sweet-toned viola and Ian Brown’s gentle piano playing taking over its role at a later stage. The minuet was nicely balanced with the viola adding a sombre touch, while in the finale the clarinet once more set the tone with a flowing melody and plenty of twists and turns along the way. The threesome came together again for a warm and often tender account of Märchenerzählungen, one of Schumann’s last compositions, but definitely not the work of a madman.

In other circumstances these performances might have been the highlights of the evening, but attention was focussed on two other works for larger combinations of instruments. Vaughan Williams’ Quintet dates from 1898 when he was still struggling to find a distinctive voice. Like Brahms he disowned (and often destroyed) his more youthful works, but listening to this performance one wondered why, because there was so much in the work that a young man could be proud of. His handling of the of instruments was exemplary and there was a wealth of invention in the work. True, the influence of Brahms was unmistakable – dense and vigorous piano playing, horn calls more reminiscent of Germanic forests than English landscapes – but there was plenty of humour as well. The Intermezzo was a whimsical waltz with interruptions and changes of tempo, while the dreamy Andantino was notable for its heart-rending violin passages from Stephanie Gonley. The racy Allegro molto finale was a riot of fun with synchopated rhythms and a few witty Mendelssohnian touches. Thank God this work did not end up on the scrapheap!

The Nash Ensemble’s final contribution to the Festival concert was Ernó Dohnányi’s Sextet, composed in 1935. The programme notes recall his many accomplishments as a pianist, conductor and teacher at the Budapest Academy of Music; he also promoted the work of Bartók and Kodály. One wonders why music of such quality and vigour is not better known, but presumably at the time it was dismissed as old-fashioned fare and compared unfavourably with the avant-garde works of Schoenberg, Berg and Bartók himself. Yet it is a flawless and enjoyable piece by a master orchestrator at the height of his powers. It begins dramatically with a dark mysterious horn theme until a lyrical viola melody dissipates the tension and generates calm. The Intermezzo begins with a soothing chorale but later the piano adopts a more martial tone – reflecting the growing tension in Europe in the Thirties, perhaps – but this eventually fades away. The Allegro con sentimento – a theme and variations introduced by the clarinet – was suitably varied, and was followed by a boisterous Finale with plenty of syncopation, puckish humour and zany dance forms, including a waltz. The normally very composed Nash Ensemble decided to let their hair down, with cellist Adrian Brendel grinning from ear to ear throughout, and the audience were borne along by the infectious rhythms. This elite ensemble never fails to impress with their musicianship, and tonight they exceeded everyone’s expectations by promoting two delightful rarities alongside established and much loved masterpieces.

Roger Jones

 

The Chipping Campden Music Festival continues until May 24th with performances by Jonathan Biss, Christogher Maltman, the Fine Arts Quartet, Imogen Cooper, Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr, and others. Details from www.campdenmusicfestival.co.uk.

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! The Generosity of Gwyneth Jones: Her Masterclass at the Royal College of Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H