St Jude’s Proms – Fibonacci Sequence

Strauss arr. Frans Hasenohrl
Till Eulenspiegels einmal anders! [Till Eulenspiegels lustige streiche]
Oboe Quartet in F, K370
Duetto in D
Michael Haydn
Divertimento in C, P98
Quintet in E flat, Op.16

The Fibonacci Sequence:
Jack Liebeck (violin)
Yuko Inoue (viola)
Andrew Fuller (cello)
Duncan McTier (double bass)
Christopher O’Neal (oboe)
Julian Farrell (clarinet)
Richard Skinner (bassoon)
Stephen Stirling (horn)
Kathron Sturrock (piano)

0 of 5 stars

Reviewed by: Kenneth Carter

Reviewed: 20 June, 2006
Venue: St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London

The Fibonacci Sequence, founded by Kathron Sturrock in 1994, is thus named after a number series (discovered by the eponymous medieval mathematician) that occurs throughout nature and has a direct relation to harmonious proportion (the Golden Section) in art and music. This is a fitting and thoughtful name for these outstanding musicians.

The chamber version of Till Eulenspiegel gave the concert a buoyant, joyous opening. Five players, however, make less noise that the hundred or so that the orchestral version requires, so some lusciousness of sound is sacrificed in favour of lightness of touch, wit and clarity. This was Richard Strauss as an admirer of Mozart. Stephen Stirling’s horn nonchalantly announced itself as the brazen storyteller before the other players were put to the test as we proceeded through the tales of mishaps, trial and death followed by the swaggering return into the real world again.

An exquisite piece of Mozart-playing followed. The quartet is, in effect, a divertimento for oboe with instrumental accompaniment. It is elegant, poised, light-hearted and technically demanding, written with an outstanding oboist in mind – Friedrich Ramm of the orchestra of the Prince Elector in Munich. Mozart met him in 1781, was greatly impressed and wrote the quartet almost immediately afterwards. As Christopher O’Neal showed, the writing demands a beautiful, round and gentle tone, purity, delicacy, spirit and a resounding depth. Jack Liebeck, Yuko Inoue and Andrew Fuller gave nicely-judged and stylish support.

The Rossini, a genial romp, teased the awkwardness of the double bass. It demonstrated, too, that this bear of an instrument can galumph quite lyrically. Credit then to Duncan McTier for making the most of this opportunity to display his skills. Andrew Fuller glowed genially.

Note the unusual combination in Michael Haydn’s Divertimento: the oboe has no violin to compete with; there is no cello to upstage the viola. The six movements are pleasing and accomplished, moving forward in a brightly-tempered gait. Haydn resisted the temptation to darken or weighten the Adagio and Andante movements. The delightful playing was mainly even-handed between Yuko Inoue and Andrew Fuller. In the last movement, however, Duncan McTier held the tune while Andrew Fuller rum-pumped the backing – a sort of ground-alto rather than ground-bass.

The Beethoven quintet gave the concert a splendid ending. This was a young man’s exuberance. The piano part took command: Kathron Sturrock sparkled and sang, although I wish she had swaggered, too. There was work-a-plenty for horn and oboe. Stephen Stirling’s horn sounded especially mellow when displaying the beauty in the slow movement, followed exquisitely and memorably by Christopher O’Neal’s piercing oboe. This was an ear-catching sweet and sour moment, more arresting than the more conventional duo moments between oboe and Julian Farrell’s clarinet. Richard Skinner’s bassoon sounded quite matey. The last movement was a joyous, jubilant scamper – a fitting finale for the whole concert.

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