Nash Show Responsiveness and Integration in Vaughan Williams and Schubert


aaaaEIF logo 2015 (1)




Edinburgh International Festival 2015 (2) – Vaughan Williams, Schubert, The Nash Ensemble, Queen’s Hall, 08.08.2015 (SRT)

nash ensemble c  hanya chlala arenapal

nash ensemble c hanya chlala arenapal

Vaughan Williams    Piano Quintet
Schubert                   Octet


One of the great joys of the Edinburgh Festival is the sheer variety of what is on offer.  OK, the Proms might have more music, but the vast majority of it boils down to an orchestra in the Albert Hall.  You can’t imagine a much greater contrast between the spectacular outdoor theatrics of last night’s Harmonium Project and this morning’s chamber music in the intimate surroundings of the Queen’s Hall.  It’s also a typical example of the Festival’s eclectic programming to pair classical music’s favourite Octet (sorry, Mendelssohn!) with Vaughan Williams’ early, rarely heard Piano Quintet.

 Hearing it played with such conviction by the Nash Ensemble made me wonder why on earth the youthful Vaughan Williams suppressed it in the first place.  The first movement has a propulsive forward momentum that came into its own with the dark string textures which would become so key in Vaughan Williams’ mature music.  The slow movement, on the other hand, was full of interior lyricism, led with architectural clarity by the piano before the strings took it up with melting beauty.  The finale is a set of variations whose theme seemed to be inflected with the church modes that would characterise much of Vaughan Williams’ choral music, fairly severe in its first iteration but dissolving into something very sweet, before its final variation, impressively magisterial, wound the whole work down to a surprisingly peaceful close.

Schubert’s Octet made a very different but strangely fitting companion piece, and confirmed the Nashers to be a model of responsiveness and integration, particularly in the Variations, which everybody on stage seemed to be enjoying enormously.  They attacked the main subject of the first movement with such joi de vivre as to be utterly infectious, and their perfectly balanced texture gave just the right level of prominence to the wind instruments, never finer than in the melting sweetness that characterised the opening of the Adagio.  With a bright, vigorous Scherzo, a winsomely elegant Menuet, and a finale whose slow introduction seemed pregnant with all the drama and anticipation of an operatic scena, this was a thrilling way to kick of 2015’s Queen’s Hall series.

The concert was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast on Thursday 13 August.  See here for details.

The 2015 Edinburgh International Festival runs until Monday 31st August at venues across the city.  For full details go to


Simon Thompson


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month