Alnwick Music Society, March 12, Alnwick Playhouse.
We were delighted to welcome back Benjamin Frith, who has been with us before.
This time he came with colleagues as the Ben Frith Piano Quartet, Robert Heard, violin, Louise Williams, viola, and Richard Jenkinson, ‘cello. They played not piano quartets, but three piano quintets, and for this they needed a double-bass player; so Chi Chi Nwanoku completed the line-up.
The music contained two little known pieces and one star work.Hummel’s Piano Quintet, opus 87, carried shades of Mozart and early Beethoven and, for many of us, filled in a blank in our musical experience, for little played as his music is nowadays, he was once a big name at the beginning of the 19th century.
You might not have guessed that Vaughan Williams had written chamber music, being better known for his orchestral and choral music, and some songs. However, he did write well for smaller groups, especially in the 1940s and, as has been discovered more recently, in the early stages of his career at the turn of the 20th century.
His Piano Quintet in C minor surprised us with its Brahmsian passion and warmth and, whilst not a major work, it gave us insights into his development and showed strong hints of greatness.
The star work was Schubert’s beloved Trout quintet.
All of this was presented to us with incomparable style
The instrumentalists’ marvellous technical skill was not given in a glitzy and shallow performance, but was enclosed in a desire to offer the music as the composer would have desired.
If perfection this side of heaven is impossible, it was close to that rendering of the real thing that makes you believe it could not have been done better.
A wonderful concert.