Superb evening of chamber music from Oakham ensembles

The chamber music recital on Thursday 5 October was a tribute to the vast array of talent within the music department. The pupils performed with musicality and conviction, illustrating the hard work they put in to prepare for this recital.

The recital began with a brilliant quintet of violin, clarinet, horn, trombone and piano, playing a sweet Allegretto by Thomas Dunhill. A noticeable attribute within the quintet was their ability to begin each phrase with such clarity and a sensitive tone which resulted in a warm, rich sound from the quintet.

Next was a wonderful Oboe Sonata by Handel performed by Emilia Hubbard, with Samantha Hughes on piano. Both musicians played with musical fluidity and the combination of Emilia’s bright, light oboe tone and Samantha’s sensitive accompaniment resulted in a delightful performance. Following on from this, Lucy and William Collison performed Elegy by Shostakovich. Interestingly there was great understanding between the two in their ensemble playing as William’s delicate piano accompaniment worked well with Lucy’s well-bowed violin part.

Grace Britten-Knaggs and Beth Whitlock gave a a performance of Eugène Bozza's Aria for saxophone and piano. Beth began the piece with sensitively played chords, allowing the saxophone part to soar beautifully over the top. Grace played the descending and sequential melodic lines with elegance, balancing well with the simple chordal accompaniment in the piano. Then Bethany Davis and Martin Cropper (Head of Strings) gave an exhilarating performance of Telemann’s violin duet Dolce & Allegro. There was a well achieved echo effect between the parts but when they needed to play as an ensemble they played with rubato allowing the necessary part to come out of the texture at the right moment, effectively passing the ‘baton’ between the parts!

The next ensemble was the Oakham vocal consort, who performed Arnold Bax's choral work Lord, though has told us. The group achieved a brilliant blend of voices and there was great clarity of text, which is important especially when singing in English. They unanimously breathed together in this intimate environment of only six voices, thus resulting in their excellently bright intonation. Afterwards was a performance of Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, performed by Martin Cropper (violin), Alina Maries-Reim (cello), and Jessica Carr (piano). The piece started with a very high and quietly played cello part, which is incredibly difficult but was achieved with ease. The piano part had simple chords, to accompany the violin, but maintained a consistent depth within the music to add gravitas. After the very serene beginning, the piece then came alive with pizzicato in the stringed instruments and heavy chords in the piano part which were exectuted excellently by the performers. Following this, Dickon Fell on double bass and Rupert Fell on piano performed the Adagio from Sonata in G minor by John Eccles. The work showcased Dickon's rich and warm tone on the double bass whilst Rupert provided a sturdy accompaniment. 

The next ensemble was the Oakham Trombone Quartet, made up of Andrew Jones, James Eames, Will Topper, and Oliver Brunt. They played a Taylor arrangement of Johann Strauss’ Radetsky March, which contains a well known melody which was played with character by the quartet. There was a wonderful playful nature about the performance achieved by the great contrast of dynamics. The quartet’s intonation was also fantastic, accomplishing a well-rounded ensemble sound.

The final performance of the night was a very characterful piece by Francis Poulenc, a clarinet duet, written for clarinet in B-flat and clarinet in A, performed by Morgan and William. The first movement, Presto, contained some great swells and fluctuations between both parts, which were played very musically.The second movement, Andante, contrasted with a slower tempo and more tender nature. There was a consistent ostinato figure in William’s part, accompanied a high soaring melodic line played by Morgan. In typical Poulenc style, the next, and final movement, Vif, was a complete contrast to the previous two movements but still maintained the same sense of character. With energetic twiddles, very disjointed melodies and occasionalhomophony between the parts, this work allowed both players to explore the full timbres of the clarinet. Both players had a great understanding of each other and this allowed them to play as musically as possible.

Congratulations to all involved for superb evening filled with musical talent from young students who showcased the astoundingly high standards of music at Oakham School.




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