Three Seasons with Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne, pianos, Nash Ensemble, and New Generation Artists, Bath Mozart Fest

THE Bath Mozart Fest took us musically through three of the four seasons, Spring, Summer and Autumn, in the course of just 24 hours.

Spring came in the form of four members of the BBC New Generation Artists – pianist Elisabeth Brauss, violinist Aleksey Semenenko, violist Elvind Ringstad and cellist Andrei Ionita. In music, as there is in sport, there is a freshness and obvious love of what they are doing in young players, and the desire to take a flyer and chance their arm. Not that there was any ill discipline in this quartet’s playing of Schubert’s String Trio in B flat major, Mozart’s duo for Violin and Viola in G major (a beautifully balanced presentation), Schumann’s Fantasiestucke for cello and piano, or the whole team coming together for Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E flat major.

Lingering longest in the memory was Elisabeth Brauss’ delightful rendition of 12 variations for piano on Ah vous dirais je Maman, Twinkle Twinkle little star, to you and me. Said to have been written to help Mozart teach piano, the complexities within the piece, which Elisabeth handled with ease, would have sent me, had I been a pupil of Mozart, screaming from the room.

Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne brought a touch of summer to their concert which followed the Generation Artists into the Assembly Rooms. This pair of accomplished pianists blended seamlessly together in a French dominated programme of works by Faure, Poulenc, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky.
We had musical fireworks in Poulenc’s Sonata for four hands, and a lovely lyrical interpretation of Debussy’s Six epigraphes antiques, and delicate virtuosity in the playing of the same composers’ Petite Suite for four hands, with subtle light and shade to the fore in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.

The mellow shades of autumn were clearly on view as with a very different line up to one assembled for their earlier concert, the Nash Ensemble arrived 24 hours after the New Generation Artists had vacated the premises, to play Mozart’s Clarinet Trio in E flat major, Bruch’s Romanian melody for Eight pieces and Brahms Trio in E flat major for violin horn and piano.

The clarinet trio eased us into the concert setting the mood for the other two works, with the joyous Romanian Melody for eight pieces for viola, clarinet and piano bubbling along like the lightest and tastiest of cheese soufflés.

There was more body in Brahms’ Trio in E flat major for violin horn and piano, and this trio captured each changing mood, dramatic, romantic, lyrical moving with ease from intensity to flippancy and light heartedness. Not surprisingly the audience were in no hurry to rush off for their late lunches, quite happy to give the trio the warmest of receptions.


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