We were delighted to welcome the Pixels Ensemble for the first concert of our 2022/23 season on Monday 14th November 2022. Ian Buckle (piano), Sophie Rosa and Thelma Handy (violins), Vicci Wardman (viola) and Jonathan Aasgaard (cello) give us a wonderful programme of English music, combined with Mozart’s E flat piano concerto K 449. The concert opened with Rebecca Clarke’s Three Pieces for Two Violins and Piano, which was followed by the Mozart concerto, arranged for piano and string quartet. Then in the second half we were treated to a superb performance of the Elgar piano quintet. This was another very enjoyable evening of music-making, which the large audience fully appreciated.
It was a great pleasure finally to welcome the Marmen Quartet (Johannes Marmen and Laia Valentin Braun (violins), Bryony Gibson-Cornish (viola) and Sinéad O’Halloran (cello)) on 22nd February 2023, our first concert of 2023. We had originally scheduled a concert by the quartet before Covid, and this finally re-arranged concert was everything we could have hoped for.
In the first half they played two contrasting Haydn quartets, Op 50 No 2 in C major, and Op 64 No 3 in B flat major. And following the interval, a complete change of mood: Beethoven’s great late quartet in C sharp minor, Op 131.
We were treated to quartet playing at the very highest level, from the humour and sparkle of Haydn to the agonised soul searching of late Beethoven, and it was easy to see why this quartet had won so many prestigious awards over the last few years, including first prize at the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition in 2018. Another great evening of superb music-making enjoyed by our audience.
On 27th April 2023 we were delighted to welcome back the celebrated international pianist Piers Lane for a recital of works by Rachmaninoff and Chopin. In the first half Piers played a selection of Rachmaninoff’s preludes, including the infamous C sharp minor prelude which came to haunt Rachmaninoff in his performing career, together with four preludes from Op 23. This was followed by Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin Op 22, the theme being Chopin’s prelude in C minor. This transition to Chopin paved the way for the second half devoted to the Chopin pieces included in the ballets Les Sylphides and Chopiniana. These were a delightful selection including the A major polonaise, together with some mazurkas, nocturnes and waltzes, finishing with the famous grand valse brilliante in E flat. Piers’s playing was a masterclass in tone colour and sensitivity combined with stunning virtuosity when required. He gave the capacity audience a wonderful recital, playing works by two composers especially close to his heart, and the programme was highly appropriate in the year in which we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff’s birth.
The last concert in our 2022/23 season was from the Roscoe Piano Trio on 6th July 2023, and brought us three masterworks by Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms. In the first half Martin Roscoe, Fenella Humphreys and Jessica Burroughs played Haydn’s piano trio in A flat Hob XV:14 and Beethoven’s piano trio in E flat Op 70 No 2. Both major works, they are relatively rarely played, and for example contain remarkable writing for the piano in the slow movement of the Haydn, with exquisitely played ornamentation. The Beethoven trio showed remarkable harmonic innovation, with one passage described by Martin Roscoe as foreshadowing Mahler! After the interval, the trio played the wonderful Brahms B major trio (revised version) with great commitment, passion and lyricism, bringing the concert – and our season – to a superb conclusion!