Archive for October 11, 2007

Harmoniemusik at St Gabriel’s

October 11, 2007

harmoniemusik.jpg
Janna Hüneke, flute
Sarah Devonald, oboe
Mark Lacey, clarinet
Geoffrey Pearce, horn
Alec Forshaw, bassoon
Paul Guinery, piano

I have known, and played with, members of the wind-based group Harmoniemusik for a long time – in the case of Alec, the bassoonist, for longer than I care to recall (39 years, I guess).  So I always try to get to their concerts if I can.  Last night’s was at another venue new to me – St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico.  It was part of The Seven Series, a series of… er… seven concerts, featuring ‘a mixture of established professionals and some of the most exciting new talent of today’.  Not quite sure how Harmoniemusik fits in to this – ‘exciting old talent’ perhaps?  (sorry!)  The semi-pro (or semi-amateur) group was founded in 1991 after playing together on board a Mediterranean cruise ship, and has recently given concerts in France, Belgium and Germany, as well a regular gig in Cornwall.  They have just released their second CD.

Large Victorian churches are not the most suitable places for chamber music – tending to be cavernous, echoey, COLD!, uncomfortable, and lacking good sightlines;  if, as in this case, you have two rows of pews with a wide central aisle, there is nowhere from which anyone can have a decent view of the whole ensemble.  However, this was part of ‘Gabriel Arts’, an umbrella set-up based on the church, evidently with an enthusiastic local audience;  peripheral attractions included wine, cheese and an art exhibition (buy now or leave a sealed bid…).

The concert kicked off with Bozza’s Trois pièces pour une musique de nuit – one of those wispy French pieces difficult to bring off with non-French players, but they did a fine and evocative job.  Then Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Wind, K452, which Mozart himself thought ‘the best work I have ever written’, and it is certainly a sublime treat.  Pianist was Paul Guinery, better known as one of the voices of BBC Radio 3.  A heart-warming performance, with tempi that felt just right – not too slow, none of that snail-on-a-piece-of-elastic catching up at recapitulations.  Lovely wind solos, fine piano playing;  a word, too, for the piano, a hundred-year-old Steinway with a soft but carrying tone that almost sounded as if it could have been a Viennese fortepiano of Mozart’s day.

The second half (more…)