An evening of chamber music

Francis Rayner, Susan Hutton and the Hess Quartet, St Mary in the Castle, Saturday, June 7. Review by Marrion Wells.

The programme listed no guiding spirit, but the players’ names included Andrew Laing, whom having been spied occupying the leader’s chair of various symphonic combinations - not a position one obtains lightly - assured us that we were in safe hands.

Mozart in his all-too-brief 35 years wrote quartets and quintets for piano, flute, clarinet, sometimes several for the same instrument, but only one for the oboe.

Susan Hutton blended delicacy with authority to lead the players in the three movements of Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F major, the allegro, bright and lively, the adagio, slower, more dignified, and finally the rondeau leading to a further Allegro and a sparkling ending.

Mendelssohn’s D minor piano trio featured Francis Rayner in the stellar role, supported by Rachel Hess on violin and Ben Hess on cello.

This was in four parts, the first fast and busy, even agitato, the second slower and gentle, andante.

The third movement was a Scherzo vivace. light and airy, rising to a climax at the finale.

The fourth movement opened in restrained fashion but rapidly became appassionata to form a glorious conclusion to the first half.

More Mendelssohn involving all six performers served as an introduction to the second half.

The Brahms F Minor Piano Quintet Op 34 (four black notes!) was scored for piano, first and second violin, viola and cello. It opened again with an allegro followed by an more gentle andante, at moments slowing into an adagio, then a bright trio and for the finale, returning to a lively allegro.

The audience throughout was most appreciative of the players’ skills, enjoying the intimacy of the programme.

If only there were some local venue to enhance that intimacy for such programmes as this, to introduce lesser-known works of the get composers.

Hastings Museum was fine for small groups with audience to match.

Where is its present-day counterpart with capacity for 100 or so where music of this genre can be heard as it was originally intended, in the drawing-room?