Review: The Nash Ensemble, Haydn, Mozart & Schubert, Snape Proms, August 8

The Nash Ensemble who perform at this year's Snape proms. Photo: Snape Proms

The Nash Ensemble who perform at this year's Snape proms. Photo: Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

The Nash Ensemble is one of Britain’s foremost chamber groups, not only in the established repertory but in their commissioning and promotion of work by contemporary composers. However, in this well attended concert they turned to three of the most accessible and polished compositions from three giants of the classical era.

The gypsy rondo finale of the work provides the title for Haydn’s Piano Trio in G from 1795 and it is a more substantial work than might be expected. The piano certainly predominates and the cello is largely supportive but the violin has plenty to do, sometimes forging a distinctly independent path, Benjamin Nabarro fleet of finger and with a warm, bright tone. Pianist Ian Brown was in fine form with clear articulation and precise control of dynamics.

Mozart’s affection for the clarinet is immediately evident in his compositions for the instrument and the Clarinet Quintet is a perfectly balanced and integrated work. The clarinettist has ample opportunity for display but at other times needs to defer and support. Richard Hosford’s tone was warm, beguiling and consistently sustained. Cellist Bjorg Lewis and violist Lars Anders Tomter provided a secure and velvety cushion as well as some pointed interjections and violinist Michael Gurevich joined Nabarro in an elegant and seamless flow of melody.

Schubert’s Piano Quintet might well be the most popular chamber music work of all time and it certainly never fails to delight. It was given a most felicitous performance, both musically and through sensitive ensemble playing. The first movement had an easy lilt and the slow movement a gentle, reflective air quickly dispelled by the gusts of the scherzo. The heart of the work is the set of variations based the composer’s song Die Forelle and here Schubert’s imagination soars as the trout weaves its way through the stream. Ian Brown’s crystalline clarity and rhythmic articulation brought a genuine sense of flowing, bubbling water punctured by flashes of sunlight. The string players, including double bassist Graham Mitchell all made substantial and characterful contributions to a performance and an evening that was greatly enjoyed and applauded.

Gareth Jones.


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