Concerts at Cratfield

Oboeworks, Cratfield Church, July 1

Oboeworks, Cratfield Church, July 1

THE first recital of this year's Concerts at Cratfield, which mark the 20th anniversary of Blyth Valley Chamber Music, was given by the oboe quartet Oboeworks in two works by 20th Century English composers - a combination that typified the eclectic choice of music offered by this season's programmes.

Alan Rawsthorne's music is always beautifully crafted. In the late oboe quartet of 1970 he achieved an excellent balance between oboe and strings, with evocative writing for oboe in the slow movement, here beautifully played by Imogen Triner.

Its music with its own equally distinctive voice, though in a different style, is Richard Rodney Bennett's Arethusa for oboe quartet.

Inspired by the Green myth of that name it is an imaginative score containing some fine lyrical writing and two extended cadenzas magnificently played by cellist Richard May and Imogen Triner. Between these two immaculately performed 20th Century works, Mozart's oboe quartet provided the perfect foil, though it didn't produce quite the same inspirational playing and nor did Schubert's delightful one-movement B flat string trio.

However, Richard May's performance of the first of Bach's unaccompanied cellist suites was the high point of the recital. Stylish, nothing overstated, sounding spontaneous and utterly convincing, it was pure delight.

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Jean Francaix's quartet for cor anglais in strings was a charming oddity with which to finish, though its humour rapidly wore thin.

Frank Cliff

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