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HomeOperathe Hatfield Home Chamber Music pageant opens with a showcase for its...

the Hatfield Home Chamber Music pageant opens with a showcase for its diversified artists


Queen Elizabeth I presides over an empty stage at Hatfield House awaiting the performers
Queen Elizabeth I presides over an empty stage in Hatfield Home’s Marble Corridor awaiting the performers


Schubert, Poulenc, conventional, Robin Holloway, Dvorak, Jessie Montgomery, JP Jofre; Adam Walker, Julian Bliss. JP Jofre, Man Johnston, Lodestar Trio, Mishka Rushdie Momen, Charles Owen; Hatfield Home Chamber Music Competition at Hatfield Home
Reviewed 29 September 2022 (★★★★)

A bandoneon and two nyckelharpas alongside classical music from Schubert to Poulenc to a Robin Holloway premiere and extra apart from in a splendidly eclectic begin to the pageant

There’s an eclectic, worldwide genre-crossing really feel to this 12 months’s Hatfield Home Chamber Music Competition the place the pageant artists embody the Lodestar Trio (a collaboration between violinist Max Baillie and the Scandinavian people duo Erik Rydvall and Olav Mjelva), veena participant Nirmala Rjasekar, and Argentinian composer and bandoneon participant JP (Juan Pablo) Jofre.

The pageant launched on Thursday 29 September 2022 with a pair of live shows within the Marble Corridor at Hatfield Home. The setting has modified barely this 12 months, the well-known Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which often sits proper behind the performers, is on its travels having been lent to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and its place taken by one of many home’s different portraits of the queen.

The early night live performance on Thursday featured Jessica Duchen (narrator) and Mishka Rushdie Momen (piano) in Immortal Beloved based mostly on Duchen’s ebook about Beethoven. This was adopted by the pageant’s first night live performance, an eclectic programme which took benefit of the character of the pageant with its resident artists to present us a large ranging and diversified programme that one way or the other labored. 

We started with Schubert’s Quartettsatz in C minor performed by a quartet from the United Strings of Europe led by Julian Azkoul, adopted by Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata with Julian Bliss (clarinet) and Charles Owen (piano), and the primary half ended with a brief set from the Lodestar Trio. The second half started with the world premiere of Robin Holloway‘s Flute Quartet with Adam Walker (flute) and the United Strings of Europe, adopted by Dvorak’s Waldesruhe, Op.68 No. 5 with Man Johnston (cello) and Mishka Rushdie Momen (piano), then United Strings of Europe in Jessie Montgomery‘s Strum. The night ended with the UK premiere of JP Jofre’s Double Concerto for clarinet and bandoneon, string quintet and piano, performed by Julian Bliss, JP Jofre, United Strings of Europe and Richard Gowers (piano).

The 4 gamers from United Strings of Europe (Julian Azkoul, Helena Buckle, Christine Anderson, Kirsten Jenson) gave us a lyrical and intimate account of Schubert’s Quartettsatz (the primary motion of an incomplete quartet from 1820). The primary violin line was not too spotlit and this was very a lot an exploration of quartet textures. There have been robust, dramatic moments however this efficiency was maybe not as darkish or as pushed as some, an interesting technique to start the live performance.

Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata (written in 1962, considered one of his final works) plunges straight in and so did Julian Bliss and Charles Owen, no feeling of easing into the work. Taking part in from reminiscence, Bliss gave us a way of inhabiting this piece, with all its changeable moments and the way in which the music can activate a pin, juxtaposing the intense, the witty and the downright cheeky. And for all Poulenc’s bad-boy antics on this, Bliss actually introduced out the underlying sense of melancholy in the entire work, even the perkier moments. There was fairly a depth to the sound world, with Owen partnering Bliss fantastically. The inside and intense second motion, with its haunting ending, was adopted by the perky finale, stuffed with wit and character, but a severe wit. 

The primary half ended with the Lodestar Trio, the place Max Baillie (violin) joined Olav Mjelva (violins) and Erik Rydvall (nyckelharpas) for a set which consisted of two pairs of items, in every case a Scandinavian folk-inspired tune main into the group’s re-interpretation of one thing classical. Rydvall performed two completely different nyckhelharpas, these are keyed string devices and really a lot the Swedish nationwide instrument; although one thing like a fiddle, they’re maybe nearer to the hurdy-gurdy. The three performed from reminiscence and have been constantly imaginative and fascinating. We hardly knew what we have been listening too (and maybe the devices getting used might have performed with some introducing). But it surely did not matter, the sound-world right here was splendidly infectious with the three gamers creating splendidly partaking textures. Folks melodies merged into Bach and Merula, however the whole lot got here out re-invented. The group might be taking part in an extended set on the pageant on Saturday.

The second half opened with Robin Holloway’s Flute Quartet, written for flautist Adam Walker who premiered it with members of United Strings of Europe. A single motion work, the music was changeable and multi-sectional, stressed nearly. We started with a solo flute, finally joined by viola, in a sound world that was not removed from Debussy earlier than the music bought extra intense and developed impetus. At all times fluid, this was the flute’s day with the strings responding to Walker’s mesmerising taking part in, although Holloway paces the work properly and Walker had relaxation moments when the three string gamers (Julian Azkoul, Chrstine Anderson, Kirsten Jenson) performed strongly characterised moments. The temper diversified between the intense and the much less so, with a perky melody returning a few occasions and a quite jazzy fugato. This was music that by no means stayed nonetheless and on the finish Holloway had yet one more trick, a severe and intense second for strings was adopted by a perkily witty, throw away flute solo ending nearly in mid-air.

Man Johnston and Mishka Rushdie Momen’s account of Dvorak’s Waldesruhe (Silent Woods, the composer’s personal transcription of a piece for piano four-hands from 1883) was an excellent piece of lyric melancholy, showcasing Johnston’s richly heat cello tone. Within the context of a quite lengthy and diversified second half, nonetheless, you probably did one way or the other surprise fairly why it was there, notably because the stage needed to be reset each earlier than and afterwards; certainly, if this programme had a fault, it was maybe in being too beneficiant, becoming an excessive amount of in and there was a sense by the top that we had seen the stage being re-set (nonetheless deftly and swiftly) as soon as too typically.

The United Strings of Europe introduced considered one of their showpieces, Strum a 2021 work by American composer Jessie Montgomery, who’s presently composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The piece makes use of pizzicato because the important driving rhythm of the work, starting with an all-plucked texture and progressively including bowed components, however the pizzicato by no means disappeared solely, regardless of a wide range of speeds and textures. If people components have been to the fore within the Lodestar Trio’s items, then right here the sensation was at one take away, however positively there, the sense of American fiddling behind the music.

The night ended with JP Jofre’s Double Concerto which was commissioned by clarinettist Seeunghee Lee and premiered by her and Jofre with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra in June this 12 months.  Right here, Jofre and Julian Bliss have been joined by a quintet from United Strings of Europe and pianist Richard Gowers.

In three actions, the work started with a motion that Jofre known as Vals irreal (Unreal waltz), however the sense right here was not a lot considered one of dance as of the 2 soloists riffing splendidly over robust string textures. Jofre actually performed with the variations between the three teams, bandoneon, clarinet and strings, although the piano appeared to stay in a reticently supportive position all through. Taking part in on these contrasts, the primary motion labored up an exquisite head of steam. In model, Jofre’s music is eclectic, mid-Century classical string writing combining with jazz and Argentinian tango influences in an interesting approach. The gradual motion, La noche (The night time) started with an exquisite clarinet meditation over the strings, this was then taken up by the bandoneon with Bliss’ clarinet riffing over this. Because the music gained in depth it developed in drama too, leaving the meditative night time behind for one thing extra disturbing. The finale, Aboriginal was quick vivid and rhythmic, the driving rhythms interrupted often for extra considerate moments, however by the top we have been again to the quick vividness of the opening. 

All through Bliss performed with a deft virtuosity which matched Jofre’s engagement along with his personal music, and the gamers of United Strings of Europe introduced way over simply sympathetic assist to their position, actually partaking with the non-traditional components within the music.

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