Review: Ensemble Mirage at the Assembly House in Norwich

Norfolk and Norwich Festival' N sculptures at The Forum. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival' N sculptures at The Forum. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The Ensemble Mirage - Matthew Scott (clarinet), Julia Pusker (violin), Cecilia Bignall (cello) and Alexandra Vaduva (piano) - displayed skill and versatility in the three works they chose for their Royal Academy recital.

Brahms' Clarinet Trio showed them thoroughly at home with the classical manner, though the balance between the instruments was not quite what was needed. The mainly serious mood was thrown into relief by welcome lighter touches, particularly in the third movement.

Instant responses to sudden changes in style were a striking feature of the performance of the suite that Stravinsky fashioned from his Solider's Story. The emphasis on character and drama brought to life the succession of cameos of marching, dancing and hints of the uncanny in this simple tale of a warrior on his way home who sells his fiddle to the devil.

Intellectually and musically demanding, Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time took us to different sphere with its reflections of the apocalyptic visions from the Revelation of St John the Divine. The players were tireless in matching the demands made of them, both in ensemble and also when the clarinet, the cello and, finally, the violin were each in turn allotted long solo sections that took the instruments to their limits.

Christopher Smith

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