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.

The Festival, musically enhanced by St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Among other things in the Coming Events section of our Middle-C website is the complete schedule of music in the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

Just as important is the music that will be heard in the St Andrew’s Concert Season, in the second and third weeks of the festival. All 20 concerts are in the schedule, in chronological order.

This series is a response to the small amount of music in the festival proper; arranged by Wellington-based tenor Richard Greager and the organizer of the weekly Wednesday lunchtime concerts at St Andrew’s, Marjan van Waardenberg.  It offers a great platform – 20 concerts from Wellington’s most talented musicians, in a wide variety of genres from the traditional string and piano quartets, jazz and tango groups, a Renaissance music ensemble, two octets, leading singers, with pianist Terence Dennis, doing Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs, and the clarinet quintets of both Mozart and Brahms – two of the most marvellous pieces in all music, in one recital – and lots else.

It’s a brave venture, without the benefits of sponsorship or official backing, apart from a little help from a fund that remained from the similarly-independent series that were presented during the 2000 and 2002 festivals (Lindis Taylor was one of the promoters of those two series).

It’s important that the series is well supported.
Make sure you get to as many of them as you possibly can.