Mozart Horn Quintet in E flat, K 407
R Strauss Till Eulenspiegel
Schubert Octet in F, Op 166
Heart and soul makes it all Nash and easy on the ear
The world-renowned Nash Ensemble performed in the Harty Room at Queen’s on Friday night to a very appreciative capacity crowd.
This was the opening concert of the Belfast Music Society’s International Festival of Chamber Music, which took place over the weekend.
Friday’s concert began with a quintet by Mozart scored for horn, violin, two violas and cello.
The presence of a pair of violas in a quintet is quite unusual and gave a mellow centre to the sound.
It provided a good foundation for what has been called a chamber concerto for horn.
There was a terrific level of communication between the players – lots of eye contact and body language which made for near-perfect ensemble. They played with spirit and most engagingly, heart.
The piece that followed, Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel describes the adventures of the eponymous medieval hero and does this with considerable wit.
This is a demanding, virtuoso work that condenses the more familiar full orchestra version into a chamber piece.
The last work of the evening was Schubert’s Octet in F, scored for a full quartet of strings plus double bass, horn, bassoon and clarinet.
Although symphonic in scale, the Nashes were able to emphasise the chamber quality of the piece with skilful dynamic shading. Each musician is a soloist at various points in this work and each equally knew when to pull back into the instrumental texture.
There were fewer smiles passing between the performers and perhaps less heart in the interpretation, but it was stunningly executed and musically well-judged.
It was great to hear such an accomplished and starry group, and their performance set a wonderfully high standard for the rest of the BMS Chamber Music Festival.