Virtuosic skills on show at stunning concert in Seaton

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:56 28 December 2017

East Devon Music Festival is looking for new committee members. Picture: Getty Images/Hemera

East Devon Music Festival is looking for new committee members. Picture: Getty Images/Hemera

© Damon Shuck

Members of SeatonMusic enjoyed a concert on Thursday, December 14. Review by Peter Dawson

SeatonMusic did not know quite what to expect in their third concert of the season.

The name of Richard Rodney Bennett may be best known for his work on films such as Four Weddings and Funeral or Murder on the Orient Express.

In 1993, he was a patron of Seaton and District Music Club (as it then was called) and the club commissioned a work from him.

The resulting Sonata for Bassoon and Piano was premiered then by distinguished bassoonist Laurence Perkins and pianist Michael Hancock, and performed again, on December 14, by Jarek Augustyniak and Sophia Rahman.

Jarek is principal bassoon of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and pianist Sophia has made many recordings with that orchestra, and has also visited Seaton twice before.

They were joined in this concert, on December 14, by John Anderson, principal oboe of the English Chamber Orchestra.

Bennett’s sonata opened the concert, a work described as ‘challenging, satisfying and musically substantial’.

It was a striking performance in which Jarek demonstrated the full dynamic and expressive range of the bassoon, an instrument which is perhaps less familiar to listeners as a solo instrument than many others.

Sophia Rahman’s accompaniment was equally subtle and led to interesting conversations between the two instruments.

Two works by French composer Francis Poulenc filled the centre of the evening.

His early Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon and his last 
work, the Sonata for Oboe and Piano.

In the trio, Poulenc’s love of jazzy rhythms and of clear melodic phrases, and his playful sense of humour were evident. All three musicians could show off their virtuosic skills.

The oboe sonata was more sombre in tone, and John Anderson brought out the range of the oboe in sustained plaintive sections, hints of religious chant, and contrasting high-spirited passages.

The concert concluded by going back in time to Mozart.

His ‘Kegelstatt’ trio K.498 (lit. ‘bowling alley’ trio!), more familiar to listeners in the original scoring for clarinet, viola and piano, has been arranged for oboe, bassoon and piano.

The quality of the ensemble playing of this dynamic trio made this a most enjoyable arrangement.

In the New Year, the next concert in the series is on Thursday, January 25, at 7.30pm in the Gateway, Seaton.

It sees the welcome return of the renowned Schubert Ensemble, who are including Seaton in their last ever concert tour.

They will play piano quartets by Brahms and Dvorák, as well as a newly-commissioned work by outstanding young British composer, Charlotte Bray.

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