Nordic Chamber Ensemble

Tuesday 29 January 2013
PoulencSextet for Wind and Piano
McCabeConcerto for Wind Quartet and Piano
LarssonString Quartet
SchubertTrout Quintet


Skipton Music Society enjoyed a richly varied evening last Tuesday from the flexible and many-talented Nordic Chamber Ensemble.

In the first half, we heard two contrasting pieces for piano and wind quintet, the sextet of François Poulenc and the concerto of John McCabe. The McCabe is the bigger piece, with tough and rhythmic fast sections framing two more lyrical slow sections featuring expressive solos - beautifully played - for horn and flute. The Nordic Ensemble brought off the contrasts admirably, with Mona Kontra bringing real panache to the virtuoso piano part, though it would have been good to have had even more rhythmic precision in the final section. Perhaps with hindsight it was a mistake to play this demanding piece immediately after the Poulenc, which though lighter in character is in its way equally challenging both for performer and for listener.

After the interval the strings of the ensemble joined the wind in the short serenade by the Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson, a delightful and lyrical piece which (for this reviewer at least) went by all too quickly. The ensemble revelled in its quietly rapt sonorities and, I'm sure, made many converts for this composer who is still too little known in this country. Finally piano and strings let their hair down in the holiday atmosphere of Franz Schubert's "Trout" quintet, conveying beautifully the delicate playfulness of the fast movements and the lyrical intensity of the slow. Altogether a wonderful end to a most enjoyable concert.

Charles Dobson