Magnard Ensemble – 12 January 2019

dsc06289Mana Shibata (oboe)        Suling King (piano)             Catriona McDermid (bassoon) 
Image by Marian Pearson                                                                    More images below

Audience comments:

‘An unusual and enjoyable’first’. Well worth supporting.

Absolutely fabulous. Loved every minute of it. Definitely want to see them again!

Concert review
by Clive Davies

There were welcome newcomers as well as veteran habitués in the audience for the first
programme of the Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire Concert Society in this 2019 New

On offer at Outwood Academy, Foxhills, was something novel as well as new. A
detachment from the Magnard Ensemble presented a programme of works for oboe,
bassoon and piano. There is a somewhat exiguous repertoire for this combination of
instruments but such was the zeal and vitality of these talented young performers that they seemed to throw open doors to new and enticing territories of musicality.

There was an English lilt to the first part of the recital, with works by near-contemporary
composers Peter Hope and Stephen Dodgson. The flavour was pastoral, bucolic even,
with the precise articulation of the reed instruments flitting above the silvery piano
accompaniment of Suling King. Also English, but altogether more exotic and pagan, were
the four from six metamorphoses for solo oboe (Opus 49) by Benjamin Britten, played
beautifully and persuasively by Mana Shibata.

Although the ensemble players were fully integrated and cohesive, it was apparent that the instrumentalists were also acting as advocates and ambassadors for their own disciplines. Catriona McDermid was especially tender and protective in respect of her bassoon, refuting the idea that the instrument merited only a comedic role (Mozart might have been to blame for this calumny, although there is an unhelpful rhyming overlap between bassoon and buffoon), and demonstrating in Elgar’s Romance for Bassoon and Piano (Opus 62) that the composer’s leaning might have been as much amorous as romantic.

An attractive Toccata for bassoon and piano by Nino Rota seconded her tuneful argument – the second month in succession that a Rota work has been on the Scunthorpe playlist – which was followed in due course by a genial Trio de Salon for the three instruments by the nineteenth century French composer Clémence de Grandval, a pseudonym masking the female identity of Marie Félicie Clémence de Reiset.

The artists returned to France for their concluding piece, the Trio pour piano, hautbois et
Bassoon (Opus 43) by Francis Poulenc. Typically, this Trio compressed all manner of
mood swings and movement in its brief few minutes– here merriment, here anguish – yet it succeeded joyously in arguing that this combination of instruments was not the least bit eccentric or frivolous, but rather the ideal vehicle for presenting music of verve, feeling and originality.