James MacMillan’s ‘Untold’ was a complete change being closely based on an Irish Folk Song and introducing the darker tones of a Cor Anglais beautifully played by the group’s oboe, Gwenllian Davies.
Carl Nielsen’s Op.43 is, in the opinion of many, the finest wind quintet written and the performance we heard was certainly the finest live performance this reviewer has heard. Written to accommodate the personalities of five friends the music ‘overhears’ their discussions and thoughts. With Andrew Mason,(Clarinet), Helen Shillito, (Horn), and Shelly Organ, (superb as a bassoonist wanting the last word) the quintet gave us a quite exceptional performance, one to remain long in memory for its clarity and characterisation of the ‘friends’.
György Ligeti’s ‘Six Bagatelles’ were, the group assured us, “quite short” but they need not have worried about the reception it received.
As a departure from nearly always starting concerts with the earliest piece, Franz Danzi’s ‘Wind Quintet Op.56/2’ took us back to an earlier age when the idea of five solo wind players making a satisfactory group for composers was relatively new. With some more beautiful solo parts for individuals, it would be invidious to highlight any particular ones – it was a delightful work delightfully played.
The Clarinettist, Andrew Mason, had made a most unusual arrangement of three pieces from William Walton’s ‘Facade’. As well as reducing the instrumentation he had the players also reciting Edith Sitwell’s poetry in between getting all their notes in! Very effective and much applauded, this gave a splendid finish to another very successful concert.