Wind ensemble team up with pianist

TONY COOPER The Haffner Wind Ensemble teams up with the celebrated pianist Charles Owen for a concert at the John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich, this Saturday as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music Series.


Featuring Britten Sinfonia soloists Nicholas Daniel (oboe) and Joy Farrall (clarinet), the Haffner Wind Ensemble also has in its ranks such accomplished and international musicians as Michael Cox (flute), Stephen Bell (horn) and Sarah Burnett (bassoon).

A formidable group of players, no less, it teams up with the celebrated pianist Charles Owen for a concert at the John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich, this Saturday, March 10 (7.30pm), as part of the Norfolk and Norwich chamber music series.

Two works will be heard for piano and wind, a quartet by Mozart and a sextet by Poulenc, with Mozart's adagio and allegro in F minor completing what promises an attractive and entertaining programme.

However, the programme opens with a relatively-unknown piece by the Czech composer, Ervin Schulhoff, who came from Prague and was born into a Jewish-German family in 1894. He died in 1942. His favourite composers included Reger, Strauss and Debussy. His divertissement for oboe, clarinet and bassoon (dating from 1927) is the work to be performed and is in seven strongly-characterised movements.

Poulenc's sextet - a favourite of the chamber repertoire - was completed in 1932 and revised in 1939. Like much of his work it makes a point of avoiding the subtleties of impressionism and the lushness of romanticism, but he's often willing to absorb a vein of sentimentality, albeit sophisticated.

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Mozart's adagio and allegro dates from the composer's final years and appears in a number of guises. It was originally written for a mechanical organ and shortly after completion he also made an arrangement for piano duet. It does, however, work very well in the arrangement for wind instruments.

His quintet in E flat for piano and winds is altogether a charming and tuneful piece and its affinity to a concerto is clear - not only in the three-movement form - but also in the scintillating piano part and in the last movement, the Cadenza-in-Tempo for all five players.

Charles Owen studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal College of Music where he won all the major piano prizes before completing his studies with Imogen Cooper. He received the silver medal at the Scottish International Piano Competition in 1995 and was a finalist in the 1996 London Philharmonic/Pioneer Young Soloist of the Year competition. A year later he won the Parkhouse award in partnership with violinist Katharine Gowers. He's now a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

His concert activities encompass solo, concerto and chamber music appearances and he has performed at the Barbican, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, London and Symphony Hall, Birmingham, as well as at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York and the Musikverein in Vienna. He has also performed concerti with the St Petersburg Philharmonic and the Moscow Conservatoire. His most recent recording with Natalie Clein of Brahms and Schubert won a Classical Brit Award in 2005.

A free pre-concert talk takes place at 6.30pm with Nicholas Daniel and Charles Owen.

It promises entertaining stuff!

Tickets £12, students £5, available from Prelude Records, St Giles', Norwich, 01603 628319

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