They’d been to Ilkley exactly five years ago, and opened this programme as they did previously with Mozart’s Oboe Quartet. I wrote then ‘Oboist Adrian Wilson, played his often perilously high-lying part with all the grace and ease that the piece demands’. Same again this time, only even better, as was the supporting string trio, ably led by Benjamin Nabarro (who’d also led the 2010 performance). Welcome back.
In Klughardt’s Schilflieder for oboe, viola and piano Adrian shared the limelight with viola-player Ruth Gibson, giving her a chance to shine. She made the most of her opportunities playing with alluringly rich tone. Pianist Tim Horton was superb; the part is often busy and in less sensitive hands could easily overwhelm his colleagues, but no fear of that here. Courageous to programme such a substantial rarity.
Alban Berg’s arrangement of Strauss’s Wine, Women and Song was played with true character. Second violin Claudia Ajmone-Marsan’s body language showed how important that unique ‘lift’ on the second beat of the bar is in this music. The printed parts are a nightmare to negotiate, so congratulations to the pianist’s page-turner for her reliability!
Schumann’s Piano Quintet is a great favourite of mine and I’ve never heard it played better. It received a thrilling performance with huge rhythmic vitality, bringing out both its exuberant and occasionally melancholy moods superbly. Cellist Gemma Rosefield’s lyrical playing of the first movement’s big tune was a delight. The Ensemble’s sense of joy in making music together communicated powerfully. Please come again soon!