What an evening of contrasts!
Quartet No. 2 by Crussell is a delightful and playful piece which suits admirably this seldom heard combination of instruments. Hanna Marcinowicz was impressive as a virtuoso clarinettist, secure in all registers. The clarity and precision of her playing blended well with the expert string accompaniment and produced a lively and exciting rondo finale.
A highlight of the evening was a performance by the Maggini of the complex and inventive Beethoven C minor String Trio. Julian Leaper led with calm authority with the viola and cello showing great harmonic power in support, fully catching the moods and emotions of this thoughtful work. Much appreciated was the relaxed conversation between instruments in the adagio followed by dramatic fireworks through the remaining movements. It was a joy to hear such fine artists working together in such close partnership.
After the interval the full team returned to play a fascinating modern piece which tests the individual instruments to extremes. Hanna excelled with a display of technique and rich tonal effect. Rawsthorne’s clarinet quartet demands us to listen attentively to his mix of melodic lines and harmonies, punctuated by surprising thematic interruptions. Swirling sounds injected with brilliant clarinet thrills explored a full range of contrasting rhythms and interlocking themes.
What a contrast when Hannah changed to the soprano saxophone to explore items from the Gershwin and Cole Porter songbooks. The flute–like upper register and sweet sonorous lower notes are ideally suited to these well known tunes and they brought back many memories to the mature audience. But we were left disappointed by the lost opportunity to lift the spirits and create a mood. Hannah gave the impression of being held back by pedantic arrangements of these big band classics. The themes did not soar and the accompaniment lacked drive, bite and beat.