Inspirational! Schubert Ensemble’s Final Visit to SeatonMusic and St Mary’s, Axminster

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 February 2018

The Schubert Ensemble.

The Schubert Ensemble.

Archant

SeatonMusic’s most recent concert in The Gateway was amazing, writes Peter Dawson.

After 35 years at the forefront of British music, the Schubert Ensemble has decided this will be its last season.

Touring has taken the members all over the world – to Tokyo, New York, Amsterdam – but their final tour includes smaller favourite venues.

SeatonMusic and The Seaton Gateway were proud to be one of them.

On Thursday the four players - Simon Blendis (violin), Douglas Paterson (viola), Jane Salmon (cello) and William Howard (piano) – gave a performance of three works which wowed a large audience in The Gateway.

Two works from the 19th century opened and closed the concert.

The serious, deeply felt Piano Quartet no 3 by Johannes Brahms was full of drama and passion, reflecting the composer’s friendship with Clara Schumann at the time.

Right from the dramatic opening there was tension and struggle, from which emerged beautiful melodic lines in all the instruments.

In contrast, the Piano Quartet in Eb by Antonín Dvorák was full of vigour and bright tunes evoking his Bohemian homeland. An enthusiastic audience was thrilled by the Ensemble’s range of expression and ability to convey such contrasting styles.

The Schubert Ensemble not only plays music; they also commission new works.

A recent commission (2017) was Zustände for Piano Quartet by British composer Charlotte Bray. The introduction explained that it was inspired by a visit to Greenland and the sight and sounds of the vast ice fields. (‘Zustände’ means ‘states’ or ‘conditions’).

With the use of a full range of techniques the seemingly empty, but moving and changing landscape was dramatically brought to life.

Sustained applause brought the quartet back to play an encore – one of Fauré’s Romances sans Paroles, a calm lyrical piece again showing off the expressive and dynamic range of this quartet.

SeatonMusic is committed to music in education and the Schubert Ensemble found time in their busy schedule to visit St Mary’s RC Primary School in Axminster.

In an assembly for the whole school, they performed a wide variety of short pieces and engaged the children in conversation about the music and their instruments - a truly inspirational morning and an absolute treat, was the comment..

The next concert in the series will be on Thursday, February 22, when the Lisney Briggs Piano Duo will play works by Mozart, Schubert, Fauré, Dvořák, and Debussy.

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