27 February 2019

The annual Chamber Music Concert took place on an unexpectedly balmy February evening this year. It showcased an impressive cross-section of chamber music from a number of different ensembles – woodwind, brass, strings and piano, and from musicians in all seven year groups of the school.

We started with a promising Oboe trio, playing a set of Beethoven’s variations on Mozart’s ‘La ci darem la mano’ with much aplomb. This was followed by the Presto from Leopold Mozart’s string trio and the Presto from Haydn’s String Trio in C featuring boys almost exclusively from the third year.  The 4th year string quartet followed with the first movement of Mozart’s quartet K. 156  which was played with much fluency and conviction whilst the third year quartet followed with an enthusiastic set of Miniatures by Wilkinson

The Brass quintet gave a spirited rendition of ‘Web of Steele’ from the Shipbuilders’ Suite by Yorke and the bassoon ensemble offered Puerle’s Renaissance Intrada and Saint-Saens’ ‘The Elephant’ from The Carnival of Animals featuring some outstanding playing from James Ashby on Contrabassoon. The first half was rounded off by a piano duet featuring our new Steinway concert grand piano before we decamped into the Head of Piano’s room for the lively Russian sailors’ Dance for two pianos by Glière.

The second half commenced with some more two piano repertoire: Bentley Cook and Josef O'Connor performed Agay’s Chassidic Round Dance and Ollie Breach and Andy Zhang with the Rondo in Eb for two piano by Gurlitt. Both duos performed with a real sense of communication between the players and it was lovely to see some two piano repertoire which does not often get performed.

There were some excellent string quartet performances from three quartets across the fourth year, fifth year and lower sixth. The fourth and fifth years presented two charming string quartet movements by Mozart and Haydn whilst the lower sixth presented the darker more ominous first movement of Shostakovich’s String Quartet no. 6.  

Thereafter we enjoyed music making from two larger ensembles. The cello ensemble played Putz’s Tango Passionato with much vigour and some excellent communication amongst the players whilst the clarinet ensemble followed with a wonderful rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody which was incredibly well put together and featured some excellent ensemble playing.

The concert was brought to a close with a very mature performance of the first movement of the Dvorak Piano Quartet in Eb Major. This work bookended the day for these boys having played it in assembly this morning and as the final number in tonight’s concert. The performance was outstanding overall which is to be expected given that this group has progressed to the second round of the national Pro Corda Music Competition against some stiff opposition.

Our thanks go to all the performers and their teachers, many of whom were able to support the boys at the concert.

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