Candlelit Mozart – Live Review – Ryedale Festival
By Karl Hornsey, July 2017
This year’s Ryedale Festival once again brings an outstanding array of musical talent to the North Yorkshire countryside, set in venues across the county, and one of the earliest events showcases the talents of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Experience Ensemble at All Saints’ Church in Helmsley.
This was the first of three late-night candlelit Mozart concerts, and the beautiful church is a perfect setting for the hour-long set – relatively intimate, yet large enough to create a respectful atmosphere, and of course the multitude of candles adds something special for those in attendance.
The Experience Ensemble is effectively an apprenticeship scheme enabling young period instrumentalists to cross the bridge between education and professional careers, helping to hone their skills and gain experience by playing with the orchestra in rehearsals and concerts, and the five musicians demonstrate this beautifully in All Saints’.
“High level of virtuosity”
Much of Mozart’s work is well-known, performed countless times down the years and taking on wider and more common renown from its use in films, television and adverts, and the first piece of the evening, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, is one of his most famous of all, having been used in films as diverse as Alien, Batman, Out of Africa and Trading Places.
The piece may not have been published until 1827, 35 years after the composer’s untimely death, and little is known of its origins, but it proves the perfect piece for the ensemble to open with, immediately hooking the audience, as I’m sure even most classical music aficionados must appreciate the need for pieces to also have mainstream crossover value.
The ‘little serenade’ was written for two violins, viola and cello in four movements, and while the music itself is relatively simple, purveying that to the audience shows the ensemble’s talents at their finest. The second work was the Quartet for oboe and strings in F, which is an inspired choice, with the high level of virtuosity required allowing the ensemble to really shine.
The oboe in this instance would ordinarily be supported by the string section of a full orchestra, but in this case, with only four players involved, the quality of the musicianship is allowed to shine through, and the beautiful pitch of the oboe resonates perfectly around the church.
To conclude, although one could quite happily have listened to much, much more, was the Quintet for horn and strings in E flat. The opening Allegro is one that gives the listener a piece of contrast, loud and forceful at times, but soft and lilting at others, with the strings accompaniment giving the impression of there being many more players and instruments involved.
The middle Andante movement is a more controlled and graceful piece, before a second and concluding Allegro that demonstrates the full capabilities of the horn.
It rounds off a wonderful hour of performance by an ensemble that I would recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in classical music.
images: Eric Richmond