Churchill Music!UK Registered Charity No 1121866
Patron: Peter Donohoe CBE

Posted on Thursday 5 March


Lisa Nelsen (flute), Melanie Ragge (oboe), Nevire Ashworth (clarinet),
Adam Mackenzie (bassoon), Richard Bayliss (horn).

St John the Baptist’s Church, Churchill.
Saturday, February 28th, 2009.

For its concert on Saturday evening, the ever-enterprising ‘Churchill Music!’ dipped once again into the pool of highly accomplished young professional musicians this country still manages to produce despite the lamentable sidelining of classical music in our schools.
The New London Chamber Ensemble is a wind quintet with knobs on. Not content with simply performing brilliant music brilliantly, they brought a variety of theatrical tricks and treats to an unusual programme. It kicked off with a procession to a Pavan and Galliard by Byrd. Then came three ultra-brief, though witty studies by John Woolrich and an inevitably sparse arrangement of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. It was followed by Villa Lobos’s Bachiana Brasileira No.6 – a duo for flute and bassoon that punched well above its weight, thanks to the idiomatic and ravishingly expressive playing of Lisa Nelsen and Adam Mackenzie. Further South American flavours emanated from a couple of charming, if lightweight, suites by Lalo Shifrin and Júlio Medaglia. Between them the more substantial fare of Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet allowed us to relish the Ensemble’s skills to the full, especially in the impeccable voicing of the finale’s chorale theme and the exquisite individual lines of the succeeding variations. It was preceded by the last-minute insertion of Luciano Berio’s “Opus Number Zoo”, which would perhaps have been happier amusing local schoolchildren in the previous day’s workshop.
The most spectacular offering of the evening was the encore: a dazzling display of virtuosity and precision in Rimsky Korsakov’s evergreen Flight of the Bumblebee – with actions!
But for organisations like Churchill Music! the prospect for the likes of the NLCE would become ever bleaker as the kraken of amateurishness spreads its tentacles across our TV screens. This concert successfully bucked that trend.

© John Rushby-Smith, March 3rd, 2008

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