REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Daybreak, North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, 13/8/2022

Violinist Charlotte Scott

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Daybreak, North York Moors Chamber Music Festival

North York Moors Chamber Music Festival: Daybreak, Welburn Manor marquee, August 13

THE 2022 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival got off to a cracking start with this afternoon concert, a Beethoven piano trio followed by a Dvořák piano quartet.

The festival’s umbrella title is Soundscapes, with the various subtitles moving gradually through the day and the seasons. Appropriately, this was Daybreak.

For anyone new to this wonderful festival – one of the best-kept secrets of the chamber music world anywhere in this country, let alone in Yorkshire – the names of the musicians taking part are only revealed at the event.

All you know ahead of time are the works on the programme. But have no fear. Nobody makes it onto the Welburn stage without the highest pedigree: concerto soloists, orchestra leaders, competition winners, from all over Europe, all with a shared love of chamber music which their careers normally prevent them playing.

So, they come here on holiday, often with families in tow, and indulge themselves for our delight. The results are often astounding – and at £15 a pop, extraordinarily good value.

Beethoven’s Piano Trio, Op 11 in B flat, dates from the late 1790s when he was fairly new on the Vienna scene and still trying to make an impression. Wisely he based his writing on ‘Papa’ Haydn’s example. In these works you find Beethoven at his most witty, which did not escape our threesome here, violinist Charlotte Scott, cellist Rebecca Gilliver and pianist Christian Chamorel.

The opening Allegro was extremely light on its feet, with the downward part of the theme given a keen staccato. The semiquavers in the development section were particularly energetic.

The centre of the slow movement, which involves cello and piano alone (because its remote keys were inaccessible at the time by the clarinet for which the violin role was originally written), was soulful indeed.

The finale, nine variations on a wildly popular song by Joseph Weigl (Before I Start Work, I Need Something To Eat! – one knows the feeling) were sombre, dramatic and martial in turn. They are followed by a crazy little piano cadenza that goes off at a tangent, which Chamorel relished to the full, before his colleagues were allowed back to restore order.

The second of Dvořák’s two piano quartets, Op 87 in E flat, brought in a completely new group of players – something that ordinary economics would not normally make feasible – violinist Benjamin Baker, viola player Meghan Cassidy, cellist Jamie Walton and pianist Daniel Lebhardt. All are regulars at the festival, while Baker and Lebhardt are also frequent collaborators which undoubtedly helped cohesion.

Its dramatic opening was made more so by Lebhardt’s insistent piano, which drove his colleagues a little harder than they might have wished. It did however make the calm appearance of the second theme during the development especially beautiful.

Walton’s cello gave an ultra-lyrical start to the slow movement, so that the arrival of its stormy centre came almost as a shock. The return of the cello’s theme was almost remorseful, as if the disturbance had been too much, and it came to a serene, penitent close.

There was a pleasing sense of dance to the scherzo – almost an old-fashioned minuet – and the finale’s main theme matched the forthright opening of the whole work. The ensemble seemed particularly to savour the moments of repose that Dvořák throws in strategically. The enthusiasm of both ensembles was infectious: it bodes well for the rest of the festival.                                                                                                

Review by Martin Dreyer

Folk musician Sam Lee’s band to play at North York Moors Chamber Music Festival

Sam Lee: Ground-breaking concert at North York Moors Chamber Music Festival. Picture: Andre Pattenden

FOLK pioneer Sam Lee will bring a new perspective to this summer’s North York Moors Chamber Music Festival when performing his Songlines set of folk songs in the Welburn Manor marquee on August 22 at 7pm.

Now in its 14th consecutive year – it was one of the very few arts festivals to go ahead during the pandemic in both 2020 and 2021 – the 2022 festival runs from August 13 to 27, when its roster of world-class classical musicians gathers to perform dazzling repertoire around the theme of Soundscapes.

This year they will be joined by folk singer, song collector and conservationist Sam Lee and his band. Lee met the festival’s director,  cellist Jamie Walton, when he spent time at the newly opened Ayriel Studios in Westerdale, near Whitby, late last year.

Walton, a founder and artistic director of this new state-of-the-art facility, explains: “Sam spent time up at Ayriel Studios writing songs, and we got on so well that I joined him back in May to perform live with nightingales as part of his Nest Collective project.

“This year’s festival theme, Soundscapes, takes inspiration from the landscape and music inspired by nature.  Sam’s song set will fit in perfectly, as he is a conservationist, collector of songs and a real champion of nature.”

Ayriel Studios is also serving as a rehearsal space for many of this year’s other festival artists, which includes international musicians such as violinists Charlotte Scott, Benjamin Baker, Rachel Kolly, Victoria Sayles, Irena Simon-Renes and Irene Duval; cellists Alice Neary, Rebecca Gilliver, Tim Posner and Jamie Walton and pianists Katya Apekisheva, James Baillieu; Daniel Lebhardt, Christian Chamorel and Anna Tilbrook.

Taking part too are Ben Goldscheider (French horn); Matthew Hunt (clarinet); James Gilchrist (tenor); Alison Buchanan (soprano, Matthew Wadsworth (lute and theorbo) and young artists The Jubilee String Quartet and Cristian Grainer de Sa.

They will perform works by composers including Beethoven, Debussy, Fauré, Dvořák, Elgar, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Chausson and many others.

All the main festival concerts will take place once more in an acoustically adapted marquee in the grounds of Welburn Manor Farm, near Kirkbymoorside. This is likely to be the last time the festival utilises this format before returning to churches, three of which – at Coxwold, Egton Bridge, and Danby – are featuring as part of this year’s festival.

Tickets for each main festival concert cost £15; free for under-30s. A season ticket for all 15 concerts costs £150.

To book, email, call 07722 038990 or visit

North York Moors Chamber Music Festival director Jamie Walton. Picture: Matthew Johnson