The De Kooning Ensemble, Weymouth Lunchtime Chamber Concerts, Wednesday 27th October 2021
Fresh from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, this young piano quartet presented a sumptuously programme, with two dramatic and unashamedly romantic works by Frank Bridge and Josef Suk bookending a highly contrasting contemporary piece by young Iranian-American composer Darius Paymai. Pianist Will Bracken stepped in for the Ensemble’s usual pianist Lewis Bell.
Opening with Bridge’s Phantasy Piano Quartet in f-sharp minor, a single-movement work composed in 1910, which embraces sonata form with its exposition and reprise separated by andante and scherzo sections, The De Kooning Ensemble matched this work’s fluency, variety and lucidity with a lively, committed and imaginatively-nuanced performance.
After the passionate flourishes of Bridge’s Phantasy, Darius Paymai’s Piano Quartet offered a complete contrast in both mood and textures. A work comprising only a handful of notes, its dynamic range often barely above piano, it owed something to the music of Arvo Pärt in its haunting simplicity. It was performed with immense control and sensitivity, and provided an absorbing, meditative interlude in the middle of the concert.
The De Kooning Ensemble are recipients of the Ivan Sutton Prize for Chamber Music and their performance of Josef Suk’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in A minor revealed exactly why they were awarded first prize. Throughout we were treated to very tight, perfectly coordinated ensemble playing but also an opportunity to enjoy each individual instrument. From the elegant lyricism of Jessica Meakin’s violin to the warm sonority of Freya Hicks on viola, the mellow cantabile of the cello (Evie Coplan) to the sweetness of the piano (Will Bracken) in the second movement, this was a performance brimming with character and command.
Watch the livestream video from St Mary’s Church, Weymouth
Weymouth Lunchtime Chamber Concerts series continues on 17th November with a performance of music by Malcolm Arnold and Ludwig van Beethoven by Peter Fisher (violin) and Margaret Fingerhut (piano). Details here