Cornucopia in big ensembles at St Andrew’s


Ed Allen (1,3), Heather Thompson (1,3) horns
Rachel Vernon (3) clarinet
Lyndon Taylor (1,2,3), Ursula Evans (1,2) violins
Brian Shillito (1,2,3), Belinda Prentice (3), violas
Sally Pollard (1,2,3), cello
Vicky Jones (3), double bass

1  Beethoven: Sextet in E flat, Op 81b
2  Schubert: Quartettsatz in C minor, D.703
3  Louis Spohr: Octet in E flat, Op 32

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Monday 15 March 2010 12.15pm

Can you cope with all these horns? the name of the group seems to ask.  Yes, when they are played as expertly as Ed Allen and Heather Thompson play them.

The Beethoven sextet proved to be enchanting music, and being an early work, was rather unlike what we think of when we hear the composer’s name.  The playing was very expert, as one would expect from NZSO musicians.  There was warm tone from the strings; Lyndon Taylor, who led the group, impressed particularly as a very accomplished violinist.

Four of the string players gave a lively yet sensitive performance of Schubert’s lovely one-movement string quartet.  This was a gorgeous sound, with every nuance in place.

Spohr’s Octet is a work full of character, with delightful solos as well as superb tuttis.  The first movement featured a charming clarinet solo, notably vibrant violin and viola tone, and the support of Vicky Jones’s five-stringed bass.

The third movement consists of variations based on Handel-known Harmonious Blacksmith theme.  After a very smooth, slow introduction of the the theme, the variations follow, with very different treatment from that accorded by Handel in his E major harpsichord suite.

The horns never overwhelmed the other instruments, but indeed sounded to their best advantage in the acoustic of the church.

The allegretto finale of this work was a jolly affair, showing off each of the instruments.

The concert was a very satisfying experience; one hopes to hear more of this ensemble.

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