REVIEW: Steve Crowther’s verdict on Lumas Winds, BMS York Concerts, 5/1/24

Lumas Winds: First BMS York concert of 2024

BMS York presents Lumas Winds, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, January 5

LUMAS Winds opened their programme with a confident performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture. There are no hiding places in this music; technique is very much on the line and the crisply articulated playing throughout was both brave as well as admirable. Enjoyable too.

David Matthews’ Three Woodwind Studies, a set of personal, intimate portraits, was a delight. A Song For Emma (solo flute), with its charming melodic ebb and flow, was beautifully judged by Beth Stone.

Chris Vettraino’s performance of A Birthday Song (oboe) was both haunting and hypnotic. A Study For Sam (solo clarinet) was a first performance and proved to be a quirky, fun-filled gem.

Mozart’s Divertimento in F is an early work written in 1775. To be sure, it is more of a window into what was to come, but impressive nonetheless. The writing was full of confidence with each instrument given a share of the spoils. The playing was wonderful, the balance impeccable.

Sally Beamish’s The Naming Of Birds proved to be an evocative set of character pieces; very imaginative and quite unlike anything I have heard before. Each of these five demanding movements had five soloists evoking the call of each bird – partridge (horn), lapwing (oboe) and so forth.

I did find the actual live recorded introductions a tad contrived and frankly unnecessary, but it was a very engaging work and very well performed. However, not for the first time when listening to Ms Beamish’s music, the work left me impressed rather than moved.

Actually, I felt the same about Malcom Arnold’s Three Shanties. Impressive performances, impressive writing but …well, it put a smile on my face. Sally Beamish’s arrangement of Mozart’s Adagio for Glass Harmonica was an entirely musical affair. The sound was so seductive with the cor anglais replacing the oboe “to give a warm, dark quality to the quintet”. Which it did. How inspired.

Unlike Anton Reicha’s Two Andantes and an Adagio. The music was pretty forgettable, in fact I’ve forgotten it already, but the performance certainly wasn’t. Delightful.

Lumas Winds ended this splendid concert with the best work in the programme – apart from the Mozart, obviously – in Elizabeth Maconchy’s terrific Wind Quintet. It was so well written by a composer so clearly still at the top of their game. She was in her mid-seventies.

An opening Allegro of quirky urgency and unsettling metrical changes; the poco Lento more expressive, weaving contrapuntal lines underpinned by a dotted rhythm throughout; the third movement, Vivo, with a bit of a musical spat between clarinet and bassoon; the Andante opening with a short clarinet and horn duo, inviting in the other instruments to the party and the closing Rondo with each soloist having their say and the cute snap ending.

The players were at one with the technical and musical demands. The performance was illuminating.

Review by Steve Crowther

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Daniel Lebhardt, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York

Daniel Lebhardt: “Particular empathy with Bartók”

British Music Society of York: Daniel Lebhardt, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, December 1

FEW pianists are able successfully to combine both accompaniment and solo work. But less than a week after he had appeared in a supporting role in Helmsley, Daniel Lebhardt was back in Yorkshire for this solo recital as part of the British Music Society of York’s 102nd season.

He opened with four ballades by Brahms, but thereafter interleaved Scriabin and Bartók with three Ligeti preludes. The ballades are a product of the composer’s early twenties and grouped in two pairs, the minor and major keys of D and B; they are mainly in three-part song form.

Lebhardt played them lovingly, concentrating on their melodies and keeping accompanimental figures in the background. Nowhere was this more successful than in the last, which was beautifully sustained.

We were to hear little of this approach in the rest of the programme. Ligeti’s 18 preludes are nowadays becoming de rigueur in piano recitals (two days earlier Danny Driver had included some here).

They are frequently volatile, often fast-moving, and a supreme test of virtuosity. Lebhardt was unlucky with No 6, Autumn In Warsaw, where he had a memory lapse that a re-start could not surmount, although we had sensed the falling leaves well enough. The prestissimo ending of No 15, White On White, given later, was thrilling.

The audience stayed on his side and he came back even more determined. So much so that he took out his anger on the ‘Drammatico’ opening of Scriabin’s Third Sonata, with exceptionally strong accents.

But he still managed to convey its ebb and flow. He had regained composure by the third, slow movement, which was gentle, bordering on sentimental. Fire was to return with a vengeance in the finale; it was to become a chorale by the end. He also made strong contrasts between high and low registers in Scriabin’s Vers la Flamme.

Born in Hungary, but now based in this country, Lebhardt showed a particular empathy with Bartók. The three Studies were wonderfully crisp; they must have acted as stimulants for Ligeti. The first was a whirlwind of close harmony, while in the second he brought out the theme with great clarity in the left hand. There was not much evidence of the ‘Rubato’ the composer marked in the third, but it was neatly structured nonetheless.

Bartók’s ‘Out Of Doors’ suite (Szabadban) had a special ring of truth. Lebhardt found the humour in ‘Musettes’ (although it needed to be a touch lighter), and ‘The Night’s Music’ was appropriately eerie.

‘The chase’ was highly percussive and riddled with cross-accents, in true Allegro Barbaro vein. Indeed, if there were a quibble about the second half, it would be that too much of the music was percussive, allowing the pianist’s lyricism little rein. But his virtuosity – with the one exception – was never in doubt.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Danny Driver, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, November 29

Danny Driver: “Did not hold back from giving it the full tour-de-force treatment”

IT was testament to his versatility that no fewer than ten different composers featured in Danny Driver’s piano recital.

A first half concentrating on music for evening and night centred on Beethoven and Schumann. Thereafter music of the last 50 years included several living composers, though one suspects this was more challenging for him than for his audience.

Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, Op 27 No 1 in C sharp minor, was ushered in by the gentle lilt of Schumann’s Des Abends, its unsettled accompaniment suggesting that all was not quite well with the composer’s evening.

The Beethoven was allowed to speak for itself, its opening melody strongly outlined, while menace remained in the dotted rhythms of the left hand. In a controlled scherzo, he neatly differentiated the two halves of the opening phrase – so important for what follows – into legato (first four notes) and staccato (the remaining four). Clarity was the watchword here.

So too in the finale, which was properly agitato and taken at a tremendous lick. Beethoven’s anger here was never in doubt and Driver did not hold back from giving it the full tour-de-force treatment, with heavily percussive accents like rifle shots.

Danny Driver: Virtuosity in a daring programme. Picture: Kaupo Kikkas

In contrast, Schumann’s ‘Ghost’ Variations remained intimate (‘innig’ as he marks the theme), reflecting a moment of rare calm at a time when the composer’s mental health was precarious. There was a pleasing flow to the melody. Even in the minor key variation (the fourth), we were kept in touch with the theme by its rhythm.

After a brief journey with Debussy to the swaying dances of a Grenada evening came total change in Scriabin’s ‘Black Mass’ Sonata, No 9, which bubbled up repeatedly like a witches’ cauldron. Driver perfectly reflected the score’s volatility, almost a bacchanalian orgy, which died with exhaustion in the closing bars.

After the interval we were on much newer ground. Five Ligeti Études acted as template for a series of 21st century reactions in very similar vein. With few exceptions, the later versions were pale reflections of the original.

All but two used rapid staccato figures, hovering much of the time in the very upper reaches of the keyboard with minimalist intent. At least Martin Suckling’s Orrery (with the composer present) had a distinctive bell-like underlay and grew in intensity, thereby engaging the attention.

One could only marvel at Driver’s virtuosity and wonder how he was able to memorise such similar works. It was a daring programme, but it needed something meatier at the centre of its second half.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Steve Crowther’s verdict on The 24, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, November 22

Conductor Sarah Latto

THE core of this wonderfully programmed concert was the sensuous, perhaps even erotic text of the Song Of Solomon.

The poem celebrates love in an invitational courtship: two lovers singing to each other, desiring each other. They are in harmony in a God-free narrative that celebrates humanity.

This was particularly striking in Raffaella Aleotti’s setting of Ergo flos campi where the two lovers take the form of two unequal choirs. The energetic antiphonal exchanges were beautifully delivered by the singers.

The24’s concert opened with Flemish composer Clemens non Papa’s setting of the same text. This was a refined, controlled performance where the weaving of the seven-part setting was delightful. The balance was impeccably judged.

I was going to mention the striking high versus low setting of the ‘lily between thorns’, but as it was highlighted in the programme notes I’ve decided not to bother. I really enjoyed the ebb and flow of Hildegard of Bingen’s Flos Campi. The musical experience was undoubtedly spiritual.

James MacMillan’s setting of Robert Burns’ The Gallant Weaver was a secular musical match made in heaven. The work is brimming with the distinctive influence of Scottish folk music – the rich ornamental inflections or decoration was delightfully executed, as well as Gaelic Psalmody.

The overall effect was generally peaceful; the voicing was inspired with triple soprano divisions and gentle hanging dissonances that were exquisite. The only issue I had was the exposed bass and tenor setting of the words ‘the gallant weaver’, which jarred. Sir James, I suspect, not the choir.

The 24: “Radiating warmth and joy”

I personally find Morrissey a charmless, narcissistic individual, but there is no doubting his ability as a songwriter and performer. I really like The Smiths’ There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (written by him and guitarist Johnny Marr), and I found this arrangement by Sarah Latto and the performance itself quite sublime. It was so touching, tender and respectful.

There is much to admire in John Barber’s Song Of Songs (commissioned by The Sixteen); the intricate weaving of the musical lines, lovely ornamentation and music that rhythmically danced. But I failed to engage with the work. Not even the funky ostinato of Love Is As Strong As Death or the splendid singing in By Night could revitalise that movement’s blandness.

Unlike Judith Weir’s Vertue; a very fine performance of a very fine work. Weir’s music always shines brightly, and this was no exception. Alex Kyle made a guest appearance to conduct Schütz’ Ego Dormio; the direction was assured and the performance highly rewarding.

Kerry Andrew’s CoMa Blues was a welcome change of musical gear. The composer has forged her own clearly distinctive voice, and this short theatrical performance was spot-on.

One of the concert highlights was Victoria’s Trahe Me Post Te. It is such a delight to immerse oneself into this velvety chocolatey sound world of absolute luxury. Especially when the performance, under the inspirational direction of conductor Sarah Latto, is as polished as this.

The programme concluded with Philip Glass’s Quand Les Hommes Vivront d’Amour. This attractive work is a hymn to universal love and the responsibility that goes with it, a somewhat timely message needed right here and right now.

It had all the hallmarks of Glass’s radical, and it is indeed radical, style: effective, almost hypnotically driven motor rhythms, repetitive patterns, breathing dynamic phrasing. The performance radiated warmth and joy, a great way to sign off, to say goodnight.

Review by Steve Crowther

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on London Bridge Trio, British Music Society of York

London Bridge Trio: violinist Ben Hancox, pianist Daniel Tong and cellist Cara Berridge

British Music Society of York: London Bridge Trio, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, November 10

IT came as a surprise to find that the London Bridge Trio, renowned for its championing of English composers, is already into its third decade.

Its appearance for the British Music Society of York contained no English music, but a tasty combination of early Beethoven and late Fauré, with Schumann’s First Piano Trio for finale.

Beethoven’s first three trios – his first official opus – were his calling card as he summoned up the courage to journey to Vienna from his birthplace in Bonn at the age of 21. They did the trick and opened many doors for him.

Op 1 No 2 in D, full of variety, speaks of an imagination off the leash for the first time. There was at once clarity and spaciousness in the ensemble’s approach, a feel for the structure without obvious signposting.

The slow movement was measured, as the trio relished its improvisatory structure, while the scherzo with its offbeat accents made a lively contrast, calmed down only in its closing six-bar calando (simultaneous decrease in sound and speed). The mood of suppressed excitement in the finale burst into the open in the closing bars.

Fauré’s only piano trio, by contrast, was the work of a 78-year-old. Its ebb and flow was remarkably cogent here, as the ensemble – launched by the cello’s theme – sustained a steady momentum throughout the opening allegro.

The slow movement was meditative, its tempo leisurely, but eventually generating warmth from the central bleakness. The finale was the antithesis of this, using its syncopation and cross accents to build excitement.

Schumann’s Op 63 in D minor, the same key as the Fauré, got off to a boisterous start, with its dotted main motif especially forceful. Its jack-in-the-box scherzo was scarcely less emphatic, bursting with surprises, although the trio was a good deal smoother.

The elegiac violin opening to the slow movement, picked up by the cello, was gently touching. But its moodiness was at once dispelled by the sunshine of the finale, now in the major key, and the final acceleration was exhilarating.

The London Bridge is a well-balanced ensemble, its pianist Daniel Tong never dominating. It was a privilege to share its many insights.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Fleur Barron & Christopher Glynn, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York

Mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron: Picture: Victoria Cadisch

CHRISTOPHER Glynn, known to most in this area as artistic director of the Ryedale Festival, has an uncanny knack of talent-spotting musicians with great futures ahead of them and bringing them not only to Ryedale, but also to University of York’s music department.

His latest find, already an established star on both sides of the Atlantic, is the mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron. Her programme was a combination of German – mainly Brahms – lieder alongside Spanish canciónes, with a handful of Chinese folksongs for good measure.

Homecoming was the theme of the evening, with Brahms’ three settings of poems by Klaus Growth on Heimweh (Homesickness) at the start, a poet who hailed from the same area as the composer’s family. She tapped into the nostalgia theme best in the second song, about wanting to find the sweet road back to childhood.

Folksong was more important to Brahms than any other lieder composer and seven of his folk arrangements here proved the point. The justly famous Vergebliches Ständchen (Vain Serenade) found Barron in coquettish vein, which suited the lighter side of her flexible tone. So too did Feinstliebchen…(Sweetheart, You Mustn’t Go Barefoot), where she handled the punch-lines adroitly.

Equally impressive here was Glynn’s agile treatment of the accompaniments, some of which are unusually intricate. Berg’s Four Songs, Op 2, written in his mid-twenties (1909-10), range neatly from the ultimate lullaby of Schlafen, Schlafen (Sleep, Sleep) to Warm die Lüfte’ (Warm The Breezes) – his first piece of atonal writing, and the only one of the four songs not about sleep. Both performers enjoyed breaking out into its fiery climax after their earlier restraint. Its ending was also deeply felt.

Not that her German was less than competent, but there was the feeling that Barron was much more comfortable, both with the language and the style, in her two Spanish cycles; they suited her outgoing personality.

The Five Negro Songs of the Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge were inspired by Marian Anderson’s singing of spirituals in Barcelona during the 1930s, but are also strongly overlaid by Cuban influences and the effects of colonialism. Although better known in their orchestral versions, it was good to hear them with piano alone.

The catchy lilt of Habanera Rhythm was deeply Spanish, although the implied violence of Chévere (The Dandy) needed darker tone. In the famous Canción de Cuna (Lullaby), Barron found a touching sadness in the little black boy’s innocent sleep.  Her witty singing and Glynn’s dancing piano made the final Canto negro a high-spirited treat.

Hard to summarise the Chinese songs, whose Western-style accompaniments made them sound almost Scottish. Suffice to say, a flower drum song drew laughter and applause and later several Chinese students in the hall nodded approval.

Both performers clearly revelled in the veritable mosaic of Spanishness that makes up Falla’s Siete Populares Canciónes. Barron let her hair down here, showing real flair as she dived into chest tone more than once. Glynn’s rapid staccato in the Murcian seguidilla and the changing tempos of Jota, an Aragonese dance-song, were especially memorable.

We had needed a touch more of this panache earlier in the evening from Barron, but her genuine mezzo remains a powerful instrument. I hope we shall hear her here again soon.

Review by Martin Dreyer, November 8

REVIEW: Steve Crowther’s verdict on The Chimera Ensemble, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, November 17

The Chimera Ensemble performing at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall. Picture: Steve Crowther

GYOGY Kurtág’s Játékok piano pieces formed the main part of this innovative programme, with works by Howard Skempton and Paige Halliwell threaded in between the four groupings and closing with Michael Nyman.

This is the first time I have heard the Játékok pieces live, and they were a revelation. The only real influence I could discern was certainly not Beethoven, nor indeed Bartok, but Webern. In truth they were utterly original.

Each miniature beautifully crafted, each a portrait, a homage to his friends, fellow artistic travellers – Ligeti, Christian Wolff, a nod to Bach and, in the touching Hommage á Kurtág Márta, his wife with whom he played the piano duets.

All four groups were played by different pianists: Brinsley Morrison, Sam Goodhead, Katie Laing and Imogen Weedon & Charlotte Brettell (duets from Book VIII). Their care, the quality of touch, the precision and understanding of these tiny, intricate, aphoristic gems was a delight; polished and professional.

Játékok means games in Hungarian. Indeed, Kurtág said: “The idea of composing Játékok was suggested by children playing spontaneously, children for whom the piano still means a toy.” And this was what the performances created, that sense of innocent wonderment and discovery. 

The Chimera Ensemble was conducted by John Stringer, always a good thing. His precision and quiet authority ensured refinement and clarity in the three dovetailed works.

Howard Skempton’s Sirens (Version 1 and Versions 2 & 3) came across like musical paintings, gentle landscapes of instrumental colour created by simple chords oscillating between the different instrumental groups.

Now I do like Howard’s music, and I like the guy himself. I also like that these pieces were written for CoMA, a contemporary music organisation whose aims and values I share. However, although the performances were genuinely relaxing and engaging, the experience for me at least, was a little underwhelming.

Indeed, I initially thought the second Chimera contribution was also by Skempton – the lights being dimmed for, presumably, a performance-enhanced experience also meant it was difficult to see the actual programme notes – and a more enjoyable one too.

I’d actually written “that’s more like it, Howard” in my notes, only to discover it was a piece called Flux by Paige Halliwell – and a good one too. The Chimera Ensemble delivered its monolithic sound world to great effect where melodic shapes emerged, sometimes for their own sake and sometimes as part of a short musical conversation. Good performance, good piece.

Now to the Nyman, a composer whose music always gives me genuine foot-tapping, pulsating joy. I love the immediacy, intelligence and the physicality of his works. Not here, however. Despite the remarkably disciplined six-piano performance, the velvety textures and quiet jazzy influences, this did not work for me. I found the piece and musical experience a spectacularly self-indulgent, utterly tedious waste of time. I’ll get my coat.

Review by Steve Crowther

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Steven Osbourne, British Music Society of York

Steven Osbourne: “Intoxicating mix, with expectation rising as the recital progressed”. Picture: Benjamin Ealovega

British Music Society of York: Steven Osbourne, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, October 6

THE British Music Society of York launched its 102nd season in imperious style with one of the most consistently exciting pianists on the international circuit.

Having heard his duet partner Paul Lewis in this series last season, it was appropriate that the society should now welcome Steven Osborne.

In the build-up to Schubert’s penultimate sonata, D.959 in A major, he played the same composer’s Moments Musicaux, D.780, Schumann’s cycle Kinderszenen (Scenes From Childhood) and a Beethoven bagatelle.

It was an intoxicating mix, with expectation rising as the recital progressed. Schubert’s last three sonatas, all completed within the month of September 1828, merely two months before his death at the age of 31, are together generally considered his pianistic autobiography, covering the multi-coloured moods and styles of his approach to the instrument.

Osborne was exactly the chameleon required to reflect them. In the development section of the opening Allegro, perhaps the most volatile of all Schubert’s sonata movements, he was explosive, tinting his emotion with washes of serenity that led to a tear-jerking close.

In contrast, he emphasised the stark sparseness of the slow movement with a tempo that was closer to Adagio than the marked Andantino, only to deliver some frankly terrifying sforzandos at its stormy centre – all of which made the return to the opening all the more spellbinding.

Relief was needed and it came with a light and airy Scherzo, with an ideal balance between the hands as the melody switched locations; there was a cute rallentando when the Trio melted back into the Scherzo.

There was a magical charm, too, in the way the final Rondo’s excursions returned to the theme, teasing us exactly as Schubert intended, before a powerfully impassioned coda. It was a hectic ride, but Osborne’s virtuosity enabled him to weather its vicissitudes with immaculate control.

He had opened his second half with Beethoven’s Bagatelle, Op 33 No 4, not least because it was in the same key as the Schubert, which followed with barely a break. He kept it simple, revealing the composer’s skill at complementary accompaniment to the main melody.

In Schubert’s six Moments Musicaux at the start of the evening, he had been inclined to signpost the various moods a touch too strongly, rather than allowing the contrasting keys to speak for themselves.

But his ability to carry a line was never in doubt, and it was even more valuable in Kinderszenen that followed. Here he produced lovely inflexions in the melody of Traümerei (Dreaming) and was equally hypnotic when the child was falling asleep. Yet blind man’s buff was a playful moto perpetuo and the hobby-horse knight maintained a pompous canter. Like the rest of the programme, it was irresistibly vivid.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening to showcase Cloud Horizons at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall on October 18

Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening: York concert

NORTHUMBRIAN piper, fiddle player, composer, educator and broadcaster Kathryn Tickell will play the University of York on October 18.

The award-winning roots musician, 56, will be showcasing Cloud Horizons, her second album recorded with The Darkening, released on September 1 on Resilient Records on CD and digital download. 

Based in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall yet reaching out to the wider world, Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening explore the connecting threads of music, landscape and people over a period of almost 2,000 years.

The Darkening draw inspiration from the wild, dramatic and weather-bitten countryside along Hadrian’s Wall: a landscape that seems so quintessentially Northumbrian and yet was once inhabited by people from the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire, worshipping different gods and following different customs.

Songs range from themes of freedom, nature and venturing out into the world after times of darkness, to a Roman inscription with links to Libya and Syria magnetically pulled into the 21st century by Amen-inspired breakbeats, ominous vocals and the wildest of piping.

The artwork for Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening’s second album, Cloud Horizons

Cloud Horizons, the follow-up to 2019’s Hollowbone, is an album of extremes, one where Northumbrian traditions meet global influences. Dark, edgy soundscapes flare into euphoria with the precision of the pipes and accordion, bombastic effects-drenched octave mandolin, haunting harmony vocals, programmed beats, evocative slow airs and heart-pounding dance tunes. Lyres, clàrsach, sistrum, bone-flute and traditional Galician percussion add potency to the ambience.

Named after the old Northumbrian word for twilight, The Darkening feature four North East-based musicians, Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian smallpipes, fiddle, vocals), AmyThatcher (accordion, synth, clogs, vocals), Kieran Szifris (octave mandolin), Joe Truswell (drums, percussion, programming), plus Stef Conner, from Cambridge, (vocals, lyres, sistrum), and Josie Duncan, from the Isle of Lewis, (vocals, clarsach). Together they create “Ancient Northumbrian Futurism”.

Cloud Horizons is Kathryn’s 16th release and the first in a career spanning 39 years to feature completely new material. The track listing is: High Way To Hermitage; Long For Light; Caelestis/Sheep InThe Temple; Quilley Reel; Freedom Bird; Just Stop & Eat The Roses; Bone Music; Clogstravaganza; Gods Of War; One Night In Moaña and Back To The Rede.

Tickets for Kathryn’s 7.30pm concert in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, are on sale at yorkconcerts.co.uk/whats-on/2023-24/kathryn-tickell-the-darkening/ and via kathryntickell.com

Did you know?

KATHRYN Tickell released her first album, On Kielder Side, recorded at her parents’ house, at the age of 17 in 1984.

York Chamber Music Festival marks tenth anniversary with three days of concerts

York Chamber Music Festival artistic director Tim Lowe

YORK Chamber Music Festival returns for its tenth anniversary season from September 15 to 17, once more under the artistic directorship of Tim Lowe.

Since its founding in 2013, the festival has gone from strength to strength and will celebrate its first decade by inviting six supreme string players in Europe and the British-based Russian pianist Katya Apekisheva to participate alongside cellist Lowe.

He will be joined by John Mills and Jonathan Stone, violins; Hélene Clément and Simone van der Giessen, violas; Jonathan Aasgaard, cello, and Billy Cole, double bass.    

Described by York music critic Martin Dreyer as “a mouth-watering prospect”,the full programme can be found at www.ycmf.co.uk/2023-programme.

Picking out highlights: Mendelssohn’s joyous String Quartet Op. 13 was his first mature chamber music, written at the age of 18, and Dvořák’s String Sextet was his first great success in chamber music, a smash hit that was soon played all over Europe.

At the other end of their careers, Elgar’s response to the First World War included his late Piano Quintet, contemporary with his famous Cello Concerto, while the string septet version of Strauss’s Metamorphosen is a moving elegy for the cultural destruction caused by the Second World War. 

In a concert of cello and piano music Lowe is joined by Katya Apekisheva in Brahms’s golden, glowing First Cello Sonata, and Apekisheva performs a solo concert to include Schubert’s great last Piano Sonata in B flat major. 

Lowe says: “In our time, Europe is once again at war and as Strauss said when he re-read his Goethe, anger is never the last word. I hope that beauty and truth will shine through during the tenth anniversary of York Chamber Music Festival. We will certainly do our best. I look forward to greeting you all in September.”

Tickets are available from the National Centre for Early Music box office, in Walmgate, at ycmf.co.uk or on 01904 658338 in office hours. A Festival Saver ticket offers extra value to those wanting to attend multiple concerts. Young people aged 18 and under can attend all the events free of charge.

Pianist Katya Apekisheva

York Chamber Music Festival: the programme

Event 1: September 15, 1pm to 2pm, Cello Recital by Tim Lowe (cello) and Katya Apekisheva, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York.

Beethoven: 12 Variations on See The Conqu’ring Hero Comes from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus; Brahms: Cello Sonata No.1 in E Minor, Op. 38; Tchaikovsky: Nocturne for Cello and Piano, No. 4 from 6 pieces Op. 19 and Valse Sentimentale No. 6 from Six Morceaux, Op. 51; Schumann: Adagio and AllegroOp. 70.

Event 2: September 15, 7.30pm, Festival Artists John Mills, Jonathan Stone, Hélene Clément,Simone van der Giessen, Tim Lowe, Jonathan Aasgaard and Billy Cole, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York.

Haydn: String Quartet Op. 76 No. 3; Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor Op. 13; Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen, version for String Septet.  

Event 3: September 16, 1pm to 2pm, Piano Recital, Katya Apekisheva, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York.

Schubert: Three Piano Pieces, D946; Schubert: Piano Sonata in B flat major, D960.

Event 4: September 16, 7.30pm, Festival Artists John Mills, Jonathan Stone, Hélene Clément, Simone van der Giessen, Tim Lowe, Jonathan Aasgaard, Billy Cole and Katya Apekisheva, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

Frank Bridge: Three Idylls H.67; Vaughan Williams: Piano Quintet in C Minor; Elgar: Piano Quintet in A Minor, Op. 84.

Event 5: September 17, 3pm, Festival Artists John Mills, Jonathan Stone, Hélene Clément, Simone van der Giessen, Tim Lowe and Jonathan Aasgaard, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York.

Boccherini: String Sextet No.1 in E flat Major, Op. 23 G454; Dvořák: String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48.