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"Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon coming on"

Kings Place, London, May 15th 2011 18:30

These excellent musicians, most of whom play in the Royal Opera Orchestra, gave what was for us the finest chamber music concert of the year to date. The programming was cunning, giving opportunities for most of the players in this flexible ensemble to be heard in duo and trio as well as in a larger grouping (seven tonight).

The single Schubert movement left us wishing to have heard instead the 20-mins String Trio in Bb, D. 581. Poulenc spotlighted two of the group's impeccable wind players in convivial duo. Roger Montgomery joined them for the Beethoven Septet, with never a "horn moment" to ruffle the surface; this performance was far the best I can remember having heard, the perfect ensemble under Ania Safonova's leadership suggesting thorough rehearsal, each player taking opportunities to shine without soloistic pretensions.

The premiere of the dramatic The Zong Affair, the first of three commissions of pieces to pictures by the group's eponymous artist, was a notable success, its appreciation limited only by many of us in the audience having failed to read composer Peter Fribbins' explanatory note beforehand. Traffic was dreadful, and many of us only just arrived in time. Before concerts, people tend to chat, and in the auditorium, darkened throughout, it was impossible to read the programme notes between items... Far from how it used to be in the London Chamber Music Series' long residence at Conway Hall, when many chamber music afficionados followed the music with miniature scores... [q.v. Frank V. Hawkins book on A Hundred Years of Sunday Concerts].

It is good that the concerts have continued to be full length programmes and at their traditional convenient early evening time since they moved to Kings Place.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Beethoven, Ravel & Dvorak

Chamber Studio's first Showcase Concert:

Cavaleri Quartet Beethoven String Quartet Op 59 No 2

Lawson Trio Ravel Piano Trio

Wu Quartet Dvorak String Quartet Op 106

22 May 2011, Kings Place Hall 1

This newish organisation, closely linked with London Chamber Music Series' residency at Kings Place on Sunday evenings, provides coaching to up & coming ensembles after they have graduated at the colleges and academies and are moving into the professional realm.

Presentation in this concert was in no way competitive, but designed to exemplify the work of a few groups with distinguished coaches (sessions held in public at Kings Place on Sunday afternoons).

The Lawsons need a little more coaching by a French music specialist if they plan to take the Ravel to the Melbourne Competition in July. The Wu Quartet gave a gutsy, involving account of the big Dvorak quartet (not the usual Op 96 !). If sometimes one felt their projection seemed to be becoming almost too forceful, just then they pulled back and showed they could relax too.

Unquestionably though, the Cavaleris (formerly known as the Harpham Quartet) stole the show with a quite remarkably mature and accomplished account of Beethoven 59/2, already to a high professional standard, and led by a quite remarkably accomplished young violinist in Anna Harpham.

This was as fine as anything we'd heard over the year from leading professional ensembles, and I'd go quite a long way to hear them again in a full recital. Several musicians I was able to speak with afterwards expressed their huge debt of gratitude to Chamber Studio and its Artistic Director, Richard Ireland [pictured].

Peter Grahame Woolf