Chroma, Norwich

FRANK CLIFF The ensemble Chroma had for the centrepiece of its programme the Schubert Octet, and in addition two works scored for the same combination of instruments.

FRANK CLIFF

The ensemble Chroma had for the centrepiece of its programme the Schubert Octet, and in addition two works scored for the same combination of instruments.

Jean Françaix's Octet of 1972 was first performed as a companion piece for the Schubert. Witty, sophisticated and unmistakably French, even in a finale which pays homage to the Viennese waltz, it proved a brilliant showpiece for these excellent young musicians. If not all of the solo playing was of the superb standard of Stuart King's clarinet, it was nevertheless very fine and the balance and ensemble were excellent.

The latter was severely tested to brilliant effect in Philip Cashian's 1997 Creeping Frogs, Flying Bats and Swimming Fish inspired by the work of graphic artist Max Escher. Cashian uses the eight instruments in one movement of extreme rhythmic complexity ending with the ensemble in what sounds rather like the last bit of Rite of Spring. Highly effective, it sounded horrendously difficult and one wondered what the original dedicatees – a sixth form college – made of it.

This leaves the Schubert Octet which was wonderfully performed.

t Chroma were performing at the John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich.

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