Tales of Schumann

TONY COOPER Aldeburgh Festival event at Blythburgh Church


The Aldeburgh Festival moved from its home at Snape Maltings to Blythburgh Church for this inspiring concert of chamber music.

It featured two works by Robert Schumann performed by a trio of distinguished soloists: Michael Collins (clarinet), Isabelle van Keulen (viola) and Noriko Ogawa (piano).

The opening work, Fantasiestucke for clarinet and piano (inspired by Mozart's Trio in E flat, which was also included in this excellent programme), saw Collins showing once again what a superb master he is of his chosen instrument. His reading of the three pieces was outstanding and his playing impeccable. He produced a wonderful, rich, mellow sound that seemed a perfect substitute for the voice.

Schumann, the dreamer and great romantic, also inspired the likes of Franz Liszt and Gyorgy Kurtag, and it was good programming, therefore, to include two of his most famous songs that Liszt transcribed for piano: Fruhlingsnacht and Widmung.

Ogawa captured the spirit of his writing with panache and played on Benjamin Britten's own instrument. Her phrasing and technical skills were self-apparent to all.

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Kurtag's Hommage a R. Sch. – a delightful and amusing contemporary piece – provided a pleasant contrast to the rest of the programme.

The concert ended with Marchenerzahlungen, a collection of three songs, faultlessly played, as with the rest of the programme, by all three musicians.

Bravo to excellence, the hallmark of the Aldeburgh Festival.

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