REVIEW: Magnard Ensemble @Brighton Festival

Magnard Ensemble

Monday May 14 at St Nicholas Church, Brighton Festival

Suzannah Watson Flute
Mana Shibata Oboe
Joseph Shiner Clarinet
Jonathan Farey French Horn
Catriona McDermid Bassoon

This superbly balanced ensemble had the most delightful programme of short and engaging pieces for this lunchtime concert in the wonderfully antique St Nicolas Church, high on the hill in the warm spring sunshine.

As we walked through the meadows of the churchyard with the sun playing gently with the new leaves and flowers we felt we were in for a treat. The ensemble offered a varied programme of music spanning 300 years and as soon as they opened this performance with a sprightly, tightly honed rendition of Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles we were confirmed in our opinion.

This young but technically brilliant ensemble bounced through this strident playful piece giving it just the right amount of depth when required before introducing some shade into the emotional texture and finishing neat and pithy.

The programme was a curious mix of arrangements from BachPrelude and Fugue in B Flat Minor and Mozart’s Adagio in B Flat Major mixed in with Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik Op 24, No 2 which was an exercise in perfection, and moved from rhythmic sections to gentle slower movement before ending in a fierce crescendo.

The hour-long performance was rounded off by Paul Patterson’s Westerly Winds, a lovely piece and obviously well-known to the Magnard Ensemble as is Patterson himself as he was in the audience and visibly pleased by their performance of his work. It’s a delightful and evocative homage to southern English counties with echoes of folk and jaunty music from traditional and folk sources, folded together with gentle reflective piece and themes from the first two sections.

As charming as they are talented this young and fanatically gifted ensemble have far to go, it was a really pleasure to be able to listen to them take turns to introduce each piece and then play. They make music fun. The audience adored them and we waved them off onto the tides of success as the Westerly Winds caught their sails.

We left with a spring in our step and a smile on our faces, after a perfect seaside Lunchtime concert

Full details of the event, click here:

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