Nicholas Yonge Society

International Chamber Music in Lewes

Ensemble Solaire

28th February 2020
Ravel String Quartet (1st movt) Arr. for Wind by Matthew Horn
Barber Summer Music Op. 31
Eurico Carraptoso Cinco Elegias
Joseph Canteloube Chants d'Auvergne (Arr. Matthew Horn)
Jaques Ibert Trois Pièces Brèves
Paul Hindemith Kleine Kammermusik Op. 24 No. 2
Malcolm Arnold Three Shanties for Wind Quintet Op. 4

Just how different wind ensembles are from strings was clear from the very first piece of tonight's eclectic programme from the young and talented Ensemble Solaire. Its originator and French Horn player Matthew Horn took the bold move of starting the programme with his own brilliant arrangement of the first movement of Ravel's String Quartet – a piece renowned for the originality of its string textures. These textures were certainly transformed into fascinating new sounds in Matthew's arrangement – an early and beautiful example being the combination of low flute with horn in the main theme. The piece was an intriguing start to the programme, setting the audience listening for how other composers solve the problem of herding the five cats of a wind quintet to exploit their wonderfully varied timbral colours.

Samuel Barber's dreamy Summer Music was balm to the latest February storm, and then an intriguing novelty: contemporary Portuguese composer Eurico Carrapatoso's Five Elegies. They were indeed composed for wind quintet, but each Elegy masterfully captured the style of a different composer – no mere parodies these. The quintet played them with crisp precision. Another of Matthew's arrangements ended the first half – Chants d'Auvergne - again a welcome antidote to February!

The second half contrasted the light, French style of wind writing of Ibert with the more serious young Hindemith's Kleine Kammermusik. For me the Hindemith was the discovery of the evening: at times militaristic, skittish, virtuosic, but for all this variety written with confidence and panache. The players rose to its challenges masterfully.

An old favourite – the wonderfully witty sea shanties of Malcolm Arnold – provided a winning finish. Our thanks to all the players: Mary, Katy and James for deputising at relatively short notice, Polly for not only playing the oboe wonderfully but also entertaining us with comments about the pieces, and Matthew for putting it all together, writing the programme notes, and making his intriguing arrangements.

Review​er: Chris Darwin

Photograp​her: David James