York Late Music Concert

By Clark, Edward | Musical Opinion, July-September 2015 | Go to article overview

York Late Music Concert


Clark, Edward, Musical Opinion


Judith Weir, Sadie Harrison, Nicola LeFanu, Emily Howard, Charlotte Bray, Hayley Jenkins and Sally Beamish

Consisting of violinist Gemma Sharpies, cellist Verity Evanson and pianist Pippa Harrison, the Albany Trio was founded in 2010. This lively and engaging ensemble has consistently championed the works of female composers, past and present, and their enthusiastic advocacy was reflected in an enterprising and rewarding programme presented as part of the Late Music Concert Series at the Unitarian Chapel in York on 6 June 2015.

The world premiere of Judith Weir's O Virdissima launched the concert. Written as a gift to the Late Music Series, this radiant miniature is a reworking of a monadic hymn by Hildegard of Bingen, which is present throughout the piece on one of the three instruments at the same time as being the subject of continual variation. Weir's magical economy of means was evident with perfectly judged sporadic single notes on the piano sufficient to conjure up a whole world of enchantment in the opening section. The reinterpretation by the present Master of the Queen's Music of material by one of the earliest known female composers in the Western world resulted in an exquisite curtain-raiser, meticulously and imaginatively rendered by the performers.

Sadie Harrison's The Bride's Journey in Three Songs and a Memory (2005) was inspired by the folk music of Lithuania and uses traditional songs relating to various stages in the life of a bride. Laced with flourishes and ornamentation, the score preserves and honours its source material with sensitivity and integrity of a high order. The players' poetic instincts were seized by the score's imagination and creativity, resulting in a reading of delicacy, precision and grace.

A superbly constructed single-movement span, Nicola LeFanu's Piano Trio of 2003 develops logically and grippingly the distinctive ideas presented in the opening bars. It proved the young performers' ability to tackle pure, non-programmatic music and demonstrated their natural feeling for formal proportion and balance. A substantial statement balancing refinement and toughness, LeFanu's Piano Trio made a weighty and satisfying centrepiece to the programme. …

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