The Steinway piano was happily purring away on the King’s Place stage on Sunday night, with virtuoso Daniel Lebhardt on keys. He was in the musical company of his other Northern Chords Ensemble bedfellows, Benjamin Baker on violin and Jonathan Bloxham on cello. BBC New Generation Artist Timothy Ridout and his Peregerino di Zanetto viola joined the trio. Fauré, Mozart and Brahms were on the menu during this thrilling evening which sometimes felt like we were witnessing a bewitching melodic conversation between four old friends.
It was an evening of noteworthy substance. We were treated to Fauré’s romantic Violin Sonata No 1, first performed in 1877 and one of the French composer’s most popular chamber works, highlighting his ambidextrousness skills as an organist. Lebhardt and Baker delivered the haunting piece with lyrical elegance.
Mozart was the first major composer to write a quartet for cello, violin, viola and piano, and his Piano Quartet No 1 was executed with vigour and flourish.
The highlight of the evening was Brahms’s soulful Piano Quartet No 3. The work is thought to be influenced by Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) a collection of letters which follow Werther’s intense love for Charlotte who is engaged to an older man, drawing similarities between this work and Brahms’s love triangle with Clara Schumann.
The intensity, vivacity and emotional commitment by the Northern Chords Ensemble was a pleasure to watch. It was an exhilarating evening, and this band of brothers certainly pulled on the heart strings. I shall be looking forward to seeing them again very soon.
The Northern Chords Ensemble’s next performance is on 12 May 2020 at Newbury Spring Festival. Details here.
About the Northern Chords Ensemble
Cellist Jonathan Bloxham is also a conductor and is the Artistic Director and founder of the Northern Chords Festival. He performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall and Southbank and was an Assistant Conductor at Glyndebourne last year.
Pianist Daniel Lebhardt was born in Hungary and currently lives in England. He received first prize at the Young Concert Artists’ auditions in in Paris and in New York in 2014 and has since played on the international stage, including the Kennedy Center in D.C. and the Louvre in Paris.
New Zealander Benjamin Baker also appears regularly at Wigmore Hall, and he and his Tononi violin (1709) have appeared on the worldwide stage and with the Royal Philharmonic and BBC Concert.
Timothy Ridout is one of the most sought-after violists of his generation, appearing with the Orchestre National de Lille, Philharmonia Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, among others. Other highlights include recitals at Wigmore Hall and the Lucerne Festival.
Northern Chords Festival
Founded in 2009 by Artistic Director Jonathan Bloxham, the festival takes place on the banks of the River Tyne, in Newcastle and Gateshead, bringing together the most exciting young musicians from across Europe. The Northern Chords Festival will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne from 16 to 17 May 2020. The programme is to be announced soon (for updates, follow @northernchords on Facebook and ncfestival on Twitter).
I was a guest of Northern Chords Ensemble. As always, all opinions are my own.
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