Ensemble Mirage – 8th February 2019

DSC06454v2Further images below.                                                                                                                                                  Images by Marian Pearson

Audience comments:

  • The interpretation of the Rhapsodic Quintet was very moving – it will be one of my most memorable music experiences! Thank you.
  • The clarinettist’s comments were very helpful and informative.
  • An excellent concert- wonderful artistes, great music.
  • Brilliant programme and musicianship. Thank you
  • Great to hear the Bassett clarinet in the Mozart
  • Magical music!
  • Enjoyed it all. Great to have some live music.
  • Mozart incredibly beautiful. Very incredible ‘ppp’ from the 1st violin, yet melody clear at all times. Clarinettist also very impressive in quiet passages.
  • I thought it was interesting how the clarinet did not dominate in the first two pieces but complemented.
  • Excellent performance from such young musicians. Also, good choice of music.
  • A wonderful opportunity to hear some lesser-known works from the clarinet quintet (Howells’ Rhapsodic Quintet). Mozart sublime.
  • Excellent programme of familiar and unfamiliar music. Appreciated the explanations before each piece.
  • Beautiful playing, outstanding control – a great pleasure to listen to. Many thanks.

Review by Clive Davies
From the outset, from the very first bowing of the strings and the ascending scale of the clarinet, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A, K 581, establishes a mood of affirmation, of irrepressible optimism and generosity of spirit. Generosity was the keyword when Matthew Scott and friends – Ensemble Mirage – appeared at Outwood Academy, Foxhills. Their programme included both of the acknowledged masterworks for clarinet and string quartet and was presented with an outgoing zeal and commitment to match their technical excellence.

Matthew Scott was making a return visit to the Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire Concert Society, and so found himself back among friends. He introduced the Mozart by displaying his Bassett clarinet and explaining that this “authentic” instrument touched depths that other clarinets cannot reach. His performance made light of the swoops and soars, and the occasional squib, with which Mozart embellished his score.

The clarinet can be a somewhat assertive instrument in chamber music (did someone say bossy?) but the K 581 affords endless opportunity for the strings to find their enchanting voice: the piece was conspicuously well-served by violinists Alexandra Lomeiko, Rosemary Hinton, viola player Emily Pond and cellist Michael Newman. Matthew Scott made an eloquent submission on behalf of the Rhapsodic Quintet Op 31 by the early 20th century English composer Herbert Howells. He invited listeners to savour the harmonies and texture – rather than the “tunes” – of this quintessentially English offering. Howells came from the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and it required no great leap of the imagination to visualise a West Country landscape that might have nurtured such outdoor music.

The concert resumed with Tchaikowsky’s well-loved piano piece Herbstlied (Autumn Song) as arranged for this grouping of musicians by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.

Brahms had resolved to retire after a lifetime of musical labours until he chanced to hear a performance by the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld. He was so smitten by the sounds produced by Mühlfeld that he picked up his pen to resume work and produced a glittering salvo of late works, most notably the Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op 115. Inevitably, the work makes obeisance to Mozart, in form as much as articulation, but the end result is wholly and triumphantly Brahmsian. The quintet is perhaps more questioning than the Mozart (Frau Schumann detected a note of yearning) but as in the best of Brahms, the key shifts and changes of tempi ensured that the music evolved and expanded to encompass all degrees of emotion. Brahmas even made space for Magyar elements that hinted at camp fires and gypsy whirls.
Ensemble Mirage gave a generous and unstinting reading of this work, drawing the entire concert softly to a close in a mood of peace, fulfillment and rich contentment.