A letter from: London Conchord Ensemble

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"We are immensely looking forward to our series of concerts for Chamber Music New Zealand this Autumn, and are excited to be playing programmes that put every one of the musicians centre stage.  As an ensemble for wind, strings and piano, we often find that we are playing concerts as a quartet, quintet, or sextet, but rarely get the opportunity to have eight of us involved in a programme. So in our eight-player programme, we have tried to make the very most of the range of instrumental combinations and colours that having all of us on stage permits!

The 8-player programme is a very challenging but exciting one. The first half consists of two contrasting masterpieces from Vienna, one from the classical period and one from the Second Viennese School. It opens with Mozart’s perfect Quintet for Piano and Winds, which he himself told his father he thought was the best piece he had ever written (no mean boast, considering what else he had written by 1784). It ends with Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, as arranged by his pupil Webern for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The Chamber Symphony is concentrated, passionate and incredibly exhilarating to play. It starts at a hundred miles an hour and keeps going – the sensation as a player is somewhat the equivalent of going down a ski jump and hoping for lift off!

The second half turns to France, and two great 20th century works. We start with Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano and Winds, Poulenc’s best-known and arguably most attractive chamber work, which fully displays his unique mixture of circus high jinks and intense lyricism. The concert finishes with a piece that the audience will have heard before, but almost certainly never in this format. We’re looking forward to making it part of our repertoire for the first time. Sally Beamish, a leading Scottish composer, has arranged Debussy’s “La Mer” for piano trio. It is an outstandingly successful arrangement. Rather than trying to transcribe every last note of the score, Sally Beamish has tried to capture the feeling of light and shade in the piece. She has explored what strings and piano can do in terms of texture, and has concentrated on idiomatic techniques (like harmonics, or playing on the bridge, for a glassy sound). The sound world she creates has some similarities with that of the Ravel piano trio, and captures wonderfully the excitement of the wind and waves in Debussy’s complex and colourful masterwork. 

Thank you very much for having us – as a group of friends, we can’t wait to spend a couple of weeks on the road together, and we hope you enjoy the concerts."


The London Conchord Ensemble.


London Conchord Ensemble will be touring  from 8-17 October. Find out more here.