Concert 6. Wednesday 13 March 2013 8pm PDF Print E-mail
SCHUBERT ENSEMBLE OF LONDON

 

PROGRAMME

Mozart Piano Quartet no. 1 in G minor K478
Huw Watkins      Piano Quartet (2012)
Elgar Piano Quintet in A minor op. 84

 

 

The Schubert Ensemble of London last played at Ilkley in 2009. It has established itself over 29 years as a leading exponent of music for piano and strings. They have a busy schedule in Europe, North America and have recently toured China.

Well-known for commissioning new music they have recorded over 30 critically acclaimed CDs.

 

Mozart's first piano quartet in his favourite key is both passionate and joyful.

 

The Ensemble will give the first performance of the Huw Watkins quartet in the summer of 2012; Huw writes "I hope to come up with something fresh

that treats the group in unexpected ways".

 

The concert ends with one of Elgar's most important chamber compositions, written at about the same time as the cello concerto, with a similar nostalgic feel to it, and a particularly beautiful slow

movement.

 

 

 

 

"... an enormously engaging performance

[Elgar Piano Quintet]" TORONTO STAR

 

 

 

"The Schubert Ensemble is that rarity, a chamber music grouping of strings and piano who play regularly together, rather than just occasionally."  MUSIC WEB

 

 

 

CONCERT REVIEW

 

Newer Music Triumphs at the King’s Hall Ilkley

 

This was a concert that got better as it progressed. They began with Mozart’s G minor Piano Quartet, a work of considerable drama and intensity, but their approach did not reflect this. It was surprisingly uninvolving, an earthbound reading with limited dynamic range and insufficiently expressive phrasing, the most responsive playing coming from the cellist. Furthermore the balance was poor, the strings sometimes overwhelmed by the piano. All this was puzzling given the superb performance that came after the interval.

 

Things warmed up considerably in the next item, Huw Watkins’ brief one-movement Piano Quartet heard for the first time last year in London. This is a useful addition to the chamber music repertoire, which lacks the kind of shorter pieces that orchestras, with access to overtures and so on, can play to add variety to their programmes. The performance here was immediately engaging; it was as if the challenge of the new had awoken their musical antennae. The players relished the many fascinating instrumental colours that the composer had imagined and projected its quirky spirit very effectively. Not an easy piece to take in at a first hearing maybe (few are) but one that is well worth persevering with.

 

Elgar’s Piano Quintet is a big piece in every way, grandly conceived and deeply emotional; this performance gave it full value. The atmospheric opening was hauntingly played and the assertive material that follows had splendid energy with the serenade-like contrasting ideas elegantly expressed. There was tremendous attack in the final powerful climax, the expansive piano writing never allowed to obscure the string parts.

 

Expressive viola playing led us into the rhapsodic slow movement; glorious music that is sometimes introverted and other times ardent and both qualities were fully brought out in this well sustained performance. The main material of the finale is confident and assertive sometimes giving way to self-doubt and the performance caught this ambivalence well, ending with an electrifying adrenaline rush to bring the concert to an exciting close.

 

Geoffrey Kinder


The following recordings were recommended in the programme

 

Mozart

Hyperion have one of the best recordings of both Mozart Piano Quartets, with Paul Lewis (piano) and the Leopold String Trio. The recording quality is up to Hyperion's usual excellent standard, and the disc is made more attractive by being included in the label's 30th. Anniversary Edition at mid-price-CDA 30011.

 

Huw Williams

As far as I know there is no commercial recording of this work at the present time.

 

Elgar

 

Piers Lane (piano) and the Goldner String Quartet give an excellent, well recorded performance, coupled with the Elgar String Quartet on Hyperion CDA 67857 (full-price). At lower mid-price there is an equally attractive recording with Peter Donahoe (piano) and the Maggini Quartet on Naxos 8.553737. The coupling is again the Elgar Quartet. The Schubert Ensemble have a very good, fairly recent, version, with interesting couplings of 7 Elgar Songs and 3 Movements for Piano Trio. The recording quality is good on Champs Hill Records CHRCD027 (full-price).

 

Raymond Waud.

 

CLUB NOTES

 

As I write this, eight weeks before Sarah Connolly's song recital in April, we already have requests for more than 50 'returned' tickets, some dating back to last August! Please, please let Jennie Rundle know if you can't come to this concert -01943 609045,10am to 7pm only please, and up to 1pm on the concert day. Alternatively before the concert day you can email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


We appreciate that sometimes you cannot know that you will get to the concert until late in the day, perhaps because of illness or an emergency. Because we are expecting quite a large number to turn up on spec at the Box Office for this very popular concert, David Wharmby (Chairman) has arranged a temporary mobile phone number (07794 069 984) so that you can contact us between 1pm and 7.45pm on concert day if you have late 'returns'. We will switch the phone off at 7.45pm. Remember that all we need to know is your name, and if possible the vacant seat number(s).

 

THANKS FOR ALL YOUR TICKET 'RETURNS'
This season we have re-sold more 'returned' tickets than ever before. As about 5 to 10% of our members resign each season, we have to replace them with new members to maintain our 'full house'. These new members are usually people who have bought 'returned' ticket(s) – so 'returns' are good news for ICC. For your convenience, all we need is the information that you cannot be there – you really do not need to return the paper tickets.


Don't forget that you can claim a refund for 'returned' tickets that we sell. Refunds from the previous concert only, will be paid in cash at the interval of this concert. Refunds from earlier concerts will be paid by Jennie Rundle by cheque at the information desk in the Winter Garden after concerts end.

 

'COVERED' Free Magazine
Did one of these appear through your letter box? If so you probably saw the full page spread about ICC, with a nice photo of Lucy Gould and her violin and also an advert for the Schubert Ensemble concert. Thanks to ICC member Judith Dunn who organised this.