LUMAS WINDS wind quintet

Wednesday 14 February 2024 7:30pm

Barber                           Summer Music, op 31
Sally Beamish             The Naming of Birds
Danzi                             Wind Quintet in G minor, op 56 no. 2
Reicha                           Two Andantes and an Adagio
Elizabeth Maconchy  Wind Quintet
Mozart                         Overture from The Magic Flute

Lumas Winds are a dynamic young chamber ensemble comprising recent graduates from the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music. The group reached the finals of the Royal Overseas League Mixed Ensemble prize in 2022. They are committed ambassadors for the rich variety of the wind quintet repertoire with a focus to promote works that are not widely performed but deserve to be so.

Their programme intriguingly combines works by the classical founders of the genre – Anton Reicha and Franz Danzi – with the modern standard ‘Summer Music’ by the American Samuel Barber. There are two more recent works: one by Sally Beamish, in which each of the instruments impersonates a common bird, and a more orthodox wind quintet by Elizabeth Maconchy, all rounded off by an arrangement of a familiar piece of Mozart.

REVIEW BY Chris Skidmore

Rising stars of the wind quintet

The wind quintet, Lumas Winds, was founded by friends who had met by playing together in the National Youth Orchestra. Now at the postgraduate stage in their careers they are gradually making a name for themselves as an ensemble, particularly championing unjustly neglected works. Their programme at Ilkley Concert Club matched substantial wind quintet pieces by two British composers with some music from the founders of the repertoire, Danzi and Reicha.

The initial performance of Mozart’s overture to The Magic Flute told the audience that they were in for a lively and entertaining evening of top-class wind playing. Both the portentous initial chords and the bubbling allegro which follows them were beautifully delineated with contrasting seriousness and fun. Sally Beamish’s The naming of birds which followed highlighted each player in turn and allowed them to demonstrate their mastery of their instrument – each bird’s song was evoked brilliantly – perhaps most memorable were the eerily hollow bass notes from Flo Plane’s bassoon as the barn owl and Beth Stone’s evocation on her flute of the contrasting calls of the linnet and the corn bunting.

Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, which began the second half, deserves to be better known, and was here given a totally committed performance bringing out the rich harmonies, the song-like lyricism and the hints of neo-classicism. The three pieces by Reicha which followed, the last a virtual concerto, allowed oboist Chris Vettraino to show off his magnificent but lightly-worn virtuosity on the cor anglais.

Elizabeth Maconchy’s wind quintet, only recently rediscovered and pioneered by the group, rounded off the programme well and proved to be an immediately accessible work with excellent writing for all the instruments. A particular highlight was the duo between Rennie Sutherland’s clarinet and Ben Hartnell-Booth’s horn in the Andante. Like the Danzi quintet before the interval this was a polished performance and was given warm and appreciative applause by the Ilkley audience.

This delightful evening of masterly wind playing was rounded off by a joyous encore of Malcolm Arnold’s typical lively take on What shall we do with the drunken sailor.