The new lunchtime concert series this term got off to a vibrant start with a virtuoso performance from the St James Quintet in the Gulbenkian earlier today.
The first of Ibert’s Trois Pièces Brèves was deft and dazzling, whilst the second had some sustained and lyrical playing; the third was elegantly crafted, and demonstrated great dynamic flexibility.
The polished neo-Classicism of Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik Op 24 no 2 had great rhythmic verve, with an especially lilting second movement; the mini-cadenzas in the tiny fourth movement saw each player showing great assurety, whilst the final movement had excellent rhythmic punch and good control of the elaborate cross-rhythms.
The programme finished with a poised and refined reading of Reicha’s Quintet no 2 in E flat, including some fearsome agility in the bassoon in the last movement; whilst often an overlooked and neglected orchestral instrument, the bassoonist showed the instrument is no less agile than some of its more melodic brethren!
The group left the stage to an enthusiastic response from an audience clearly astonished at the virtuosity of the young players; throughout the programme the instrumentalists demonstrated controlled and accomplished playing which belies their youthful years. There’s an expressive sense of communication between the players, with some finely nuanced ensemble playing that sees them playing with great individual freedom and commitment, whilst maintaining an effortless unity as a group.
The St James Quintet will be appearing at the Dulwich Picture Gallery later in the year: keep an eye out for them, they are surely an ensemble with a promising future ahead of them.