Fibonacci Sequence at Kings Place

Haydn, arr. Simon Rowland-Jones
Sonata in F for Violin and Viola, Hob. VI/I
Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op.114
Graham Fitkin
Sinew for Sextet
Four Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op.75
Sextet in C for Clarinet, Horn, Piano and Strings, Op.37

Fibonacci Sequence [Julian Farrell (clarinet), Stephen Stirling (horn), Charles Mutter (violin), Yuko Inoue (viola), Benjamin Hughes (cello) & Kathron Sturrock (piano)]

Reviewed by: Andrew Maisel

Reviewed: 4 October, 2009
Venue: Hall One, Kings Place, London

The London Chamber Music Series continued its season at Kings Place with this sparkling concert from Fibonacci Sequence, now established as one of the leading chamber ensembles in Britain.

Haydn’s original set of duo-sonatas from the 1770s named only the violin as the solo instrument, though Simon Rowland-Jones’s new performing edition of this sonata has sought to address this issue, and so by redistributing some of the melodic material this is very much more of a duo-sonata than one for a violin with continuo. The changes are interesting and effective insomuch as they accomplish what they set out to achieve. Whether Haydn’s sonata is a ‘better’ piece as a result is a matter of opinion. Charles Mutter and Yuko Inoue’s playing in the outer movements was refined and nicely balanced but it was all a little too detached, the finale (Tempo di menuetto) lacked sparkle. The elegiac Adagio was finely carried, though.

Brahms’s Clarinet Trio was far finer, glowing in the warmth of some richly evocative playing. It is a work of beautiful interplay between clarinet and cello in the inner movements, described by some as a love-duet. Here there was a certain coolness in Benjamin Hughes’s and Julian Farrell’s playing, but this degree of understatement simply enhanced the feeling of rapture. They were finely supported by Kathron Sturrock, who was full of understanding, and never over-assertive.

Graham Fitkin’s latest piece was commissioned for the Fibonacci Sequence, receiving its world premiere earlier this year at the Oxford May Music Festival. His music has been described as post-minimalist but he has freely acknowledged the influences of Steve Reich and Webern through to Miles Davis, and the Pet Shop Boys. Sinew leans towards the school of Reich, Adams and Glass. It is often jagged, violently-rhythmic music, using Fitkin’s trademark repetitive procedures to create underlying tension. He describes the 13-minute sextet as “concerned with striving and endeavour” and requiring “a lot of stamina”. It is a fine work; engaging, exciting and instantly appealing. Fibonacci Sequence responded with a thrillingly spontaneous performance, which fizzled with commitment, energy and superlative discipline.

There was a delightful simplicity about the way Charles Mutter and Kathron Sturrock set about Dvořák’s Four Romantic Pieces. Mutter’s expressiveness in the legato phrasing was a particular highlight in the elegant third-movement Romance, Sturrock’s unforced yet sensitive melodic lines providing the perfect foil.

That left Ernő Dohnányi’s Sextet to provide the icing on the cake. The musicians had the measure of a work which turns and twists through different moods and influences from the Brahmsian overtones of the first movement’s rolling string arpeggios, to the bizarre modernism of the rhythmically charged finale, with its accompanying drunken-like waltz, with shades of Richard Strauss and the Second Viennese School signposted along the way. Kathron Sturrock’s quicksilver work and fluid runs underpinned some outstanding playing, bringing the evening to a rousing conclusion.

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