The small market town of Ashbourne, nestled at the southern end of the Derbyshire Dales, is the wonderful setting for the yearly Ashbourne Festival. This year, Endymion will be bringing a charming programme of Schubert, Mozart and Brahms to the festival, performing on the 29th June at St Oswalds Church. Whether you live near or far, this festival appearance is well worth coming to. Endymion masterfully contrast the dark, yearning qualities of the Brahms quintet with the bright palette of Mozart, whilst in turn, Schubert’s trio brilliantly contrasts classical elegance with romantic eloquence.
On Sunday morning, Mel, Neyire and Adam will be at Blackheath Halls in London, performing some French classics and a dash of Mozart. They’ll be exploring some interesting wind repertoire, with works by Ibert, Françaix and from Milhaud, Mozart’s lively Divertimento No.1 and the sonorous and expansive Trio from English composer Gordon Jacob. If you’d like to join them for a classical coffee on Sunday, there are still some tickets left – click here to book one.
You can also catch Mel, Neyire and Robert performing in a chamber production of the Magic Flute with Opera a la Carte, the week after next.
The NLCE are already well-known for their unique performance style and innovative repertoire, but for this season they’re offering a theatrical take on chamber music with an intriguing programme of semi-staged works. A majestic procession to Byrd’s ‘Pavane & Galliard’, a staged performance of Berio’s Opus No Zoo which takes the performers around the stage and beyond and a unique performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’…it’s certainly not your average chamber concert! They’ll also be revisiting Carl Nielson’s fantastic ‘Wind Quintet’ (op.43), which they recorded back in 2009 to great acclaim and there’s a chance to hear a work by the inimitable Moondog – the twentieth century American composer, musician, poet and inventor of several new musical instruments.
Combining Word and Music has always been a big interest for the performers, and their family-friendly programme – ‘Telling Tales’ – is a culmination of some of their favourite works, performed with narrator. It includes a narrated version of Prokofiev’s classic ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and a wonderfully witty composition by contemporary composer Martin Butler based on Roald Dahl’s collection of poems Dirty Beasts.
That’s not to say the classics are forgotten – as well as an indulgent programme of French fantasies (including the piquant Poulenc Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon and Ravel’s glorious Mother Goose Suite) there is also a selection of unique arrangements of works by Mozart – including some unusual and little-heard works written for the mechanical organ.
To find out how the NLCE could perform one of their new programmes for your venue or society, do get in contact using the contact details above.
Endymion performing Mozart's Clarinet Quintet at Kings Place in 2009
Early next year Endymion will be exploring some fantastic chamber works with two concerts in January 2012 focussing on Quintets. Far from being the “fifth wheel” at the chamber music party, the Quintet will be taking centre stage to prove that the harmony and balance of the four-person Quartet is not the only way to true musical elegance.
Endymion’s first concert is on 20th January at King’s Place in London, where we’ll be indulging in an all-Brahms programme, performing his two String Quintets and his Clarinet Quintet. Both String Quintets are scored for an extra viola (rather than an extra cello), leading to a warm sound-palette which is complemented by some typically Brahmsian harmonies and modulations, especially in the first movement of String Quintet No.1. By the time Brahms began writing his first String Quintet (reportedly his favourite chamber work) in 1882, he had left some of the classical sobriety of the two famous String Sextets of the 1860s behind him. Instead, we find a clever and high-spirited Romantic take on some well-known Baroque forms, such as the Sarabande and Fugue. The second String Quintet calls on some of the same folksy rhythms and melodies as his friend Antonín Dvorák, albeit always with Germanic shading. Brahms came out of retirement especially in order to write the Clarinet Quintet for the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, along with a Trio and two Sonatas, and it is often considered Brahms’ greatest work for chamber ensemble. Tickets for the concert are on sale here.
We’ve also been invited back to the University of Surrey in Guildford after our successful Mahler concert in July. On 29th January we’ll be performing an afternoon concert at 3pm of three Clarinet Quintets by Brahms, Mozart and Philip Venables. Mozart’s famous work was one of the very first written for that instrument combination, establishing the Clarinet in the chamber music repertoire, and undoubtedly forming a model for Brahms’ own Quintet a century later. Originally written for the basset clarinet, it has become one of the most popular chamber works of the last few centuries through its simple and joyous lyricism and faultless structural elegance. The Prelude by Philip Venables, written in 2006 (the 250th Anniversary of Mozart’s birth) for the Sounds New MozartNOW Festival in Canterbury in 2006, is indeed a prelude to Mozart quintet’s itself. Dissecting, manipulating and elaborating on the first two bars of Mozart’s quintet, Venables explores not only Mozart’s work but also the Clarinet quintet medium in a thoroughly absorbing fashion.
We’re also looking forward to coaching some of the students in Guildford on 31st January.
This week Endymion will be travelling to the musical extremes of Eastern and Western Europe with their GOODBYE STALIN! concert in Leeds on Friday 4 November, and a programme of French and German music next Tuesday 8 November in London.
Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, we’re celebrating with a programme of Russian and Estonian music in the fantastic Howard Assembly Room in Leeds. Inspired by Opera North’s production of Tchaikovsky’s dark tragedy The Queen of Spades, the programme at the HAR this Autumn aims to “shed some light on the endlessly fascinating Russian imagination” – and Endymion are delighted to have been invited to reprise some of the material from their concert in May.
This is not just music for music’s sake – although the two piano quintets by Schnittke and Shostakovich really are some of the finest chamber works of the twentieth century. This is also music with a history. In rehearsals they’ve been exploring both the light and the dark sides of the quintet that won Shostakovich the prestigious Stalin prize in 1941 and Schnittke’s memoriam of the older composer, his Duo. Alongside these Russian works they’ll be performing Summa – a string quartet by contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, who fled to Vienna in 1980 after a prolonged struggle against Soviet officialdom.
Next week, Endymion treat us to some of their favourite works from the other side of the Iron Curtain in the Michael Croft Theatre at Alleyn’s School in London. Side by side are two quintets for piano and wind, both in E flat major – the first, Mozart claimed, was “the finest work I have ever composed”, and the second is a homage to his master from the 26-year-old Beethoven. They’ve paired these Teutonic classics with some French fancy: Poulenc’s Sextet for piano and winds (an Endymion favourite!) and the fantastic Nissen arrangement of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. The players are also looking forward to working with pupils from the school in a coaching workshop in the afternoon.
There are still a few tickets left for both concerts – you can book tickets for the Howard Assembly Room here and for Alleyn’s School here.
The NLCE featured on BBC Radio 3′s In Tune programme with Sean Rafferty, joined by composer Sally Beamish and music historian Dr Fiona Elliott.
They were previewing their wonderful “Mozart, Mechanical Marvels and More…” programme which took place last night, 27th July, to a packed house at Wigmore Hall. With a fascination for the latest technology in Mozart’s Vienna in 1790, the quintet commissioned new realisations of four of his miniatures written for mechanical instruments. Composers Sally Beamish, Julian Philips, Philip Cashian and Martin Butler all made new arrangements of these pieces, and Sally also wrote a set of variations upon her theme. Sitting alongside that in the Wigmore concert were Ligeti’s Bagatelles for quintet, and John Woolrich’s Book of Studies I, including miniatures such as “Clockwork Chorale”. The links are clear!
Lastly, the quintet were joined by piano superstar Angela Hewitt for the sublime Mozart Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat.
Listen to them on BBC here, talking about the projects, the historical background, and performing realisations by Sally Beamish and Martin Butler.
Description: Onyx continue their Scottish tour with a concert at the Institute in the historic village of New Lanark.
The programme will include music from Gabrieli to the present day, including some new arrangements of Brahms piano and organ works, written especially for the group, as well as works commissioned by Onyx from composers they have enjoyed working with over their 21 years at the top of the international brass chamber music scene.
(Onyx will also be running a workshop at Lanark Grammar School on the 21st)
Michael Tippett Centre, Newton Park Campus, Bath Spa University, Bath, BA2 9BN
Following on from coaching chamber music students at Bath Spa University, Phoenix Piano Trio present a concert of works with a connection to Leipzig, finishing with Beethoven's majestic "Archduke" trio, Op.97.
Bach - Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 870
Schumann - Study for Pedal Piano, Op.56 no.1 (arr. Theodor Kirchner)
Schumann - Fugue in F major, Op.72 no.4
Bach - Sonata in F minor, BWV 1018: Adagio
Schumann - Piano Trio no.2 in F, Op. 80
Beethoven - "Archduke" Trio in Bb, Op.97