Music in the Round Spring Season 2017

With two concerts devoted to them, piano quintets could perhaps be described as popular over the course of the two months of Music in the Round’s spring season in Sheffield.

One of the concerts bring the world-renowned, London-based Schubert Ensemble to the city (10th February) to perform Dohnányi’s richly scored Piano Quintet No 2 and the more familiar essay in the form by Elgar at Upper Chapel.

Respectively written in 1914 and 1918, the programme is a repeat of a concert the group is giving 24 hours earlier at King’s Place in London as the third in a series of six featuring piano quintets.

Ensemble 360 has the other piano quintet concert at the Crucible Studio (22nd March) and again, one is familiar: Dvořák’s Op 81, the other not, by Vaughan Williams who few will be aware he has to his name.

An early work written in 1903, it rarely sounds like later Vaughan Williams getting closest to it the central (slow) movement which separates two muscular outer movements that sometimes suggest Brahms, Dvořák here and there, Schubert once or twice.

Written for the same forces as the latter’s Trout Quintet, so double bass instead of second violin, it premiered in 1905 but was not published and disappeared after 1918.

It re-emerged in the 1990s, had a second premiere in 1999 and is well worth hearing.

Ensemble 360 preface the work with some Vaughan Williams everyone knows, The Lark Ascending in a ‘chamber arrangement’.

The season begins with piano trios on the 27th of January, Schubert’s two masterpieces in the form from the Gould Piano Trio, which means a welcome back for an old friend, Benjamin Frith.

It is reported that tickets for a concert of Debussy, including Images Book 1 and Book 2, Schumann: Fantasie Op 17, and Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata, from the internationally much sought-after Stephen Hough (9th March) are selling like hot cakes.

Roderick Williams returns after his rapturously received performance (one dissenter aside) of Schubert’s Winterreise in November with the composer’s other great song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin and a different pianist, Iain Burnside (4th February).

Ensemble 360 present an appealing if eclectic mix of Sibelius: En Saga (septet version), Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel, Lutoslawski: Dance Preludes and nonets by Martinů and Spohr (1st February) in all likelihood without Tim Horton.

The pianist, however, has the stage to himself (18th February) for three pieces by Scriabin, including Sonata No 5; Chopin: Ballade No 1, Nocturnes Op 27; and Prokofiev: Sonata No 7, after warming up with four Rachmaninov preludes.

He can also be said to be getting into the mood for this year’s May Festival, Russia in the Round, for which there is a 60-minute ‘taster’ on the 11th of March!

Three other concerts of one-hour duration take place at Upper Chapel, two of them given by Ensemble 360 members with Benjamin Nabarro and Tim Horton (2nd March) offering violin sonatas by Mozart: K526 (No 35), and Enescu: No 3.

The other is an attractive clarinet and bassoon recital (14th March) from Matthew Hunt and Amy Harman taking in Poulenc’s brief but jolly Sonata for the two instruments, the first two of Beethoven’s three Duo Sonatas, plus pieces by Eugène Jancourt and Olav Berg.

Before both, though, is a fast-emerging string quartet from Scotland (22nd February), the Maxwell Quartet, performing Frank Bridge: Three Idylls, Sally Beamish: Reed Stanzas (premiered by the Elias Quartet in 2011), and Mozart: String Quartet No 21.

Further details, including two jazz concerts, a family concert, a singing day with Roderick Williams and a half-term string course can be found at www.musicintheround.co.uk

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