Nottingham Chamber Music. Royal Concert Hall. June 17 and 24.William Ruff



Sacconi String Quartet

Leonore Piano Trio


June 17 and June 24


Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham


Review: William Ruff



Nottingham’s most intimate music-making on temporary transfer from Lakeside to the Royal Concert Hall

At Lakeside they believe that small is beautiful.  And they are right.  The annual series of chamber music concerts has been one of the jewels in Nottingham’s cultural crown.  Sadly, small isn’t good for social distancing so Lakeside has come to its big cousin, the Royal Concert Hall, to ensure that music at its most subtle and intimate begins to breathe again.

The RCH seats ten times more people than Lakeside, so audiences and performers need to adjust to the challenge of having so much air to fill.  But over the past two weeks there has been some exhilarating music-making on the RCH stage, more than whetting appetites for what must soon be a return to normality.

Last week saw the Sacconi String Quartet perform three works which chart the development of the quartet form over 150 years.  Haydn’s C major, Op 52 No 2 is full of surprises, its opening movement unpredictable in its sudden silences, abrupt key changes and unsettling lurching from the assertive to the whimsical.  In the Sacconis’ hands the climax was thrilling, making one wonder if Haydn had ever written anything in his vast chamber output more powerful.

Also on the Sacconis’ programme was Ravel’s Quartet, full of ever-changing colours and textures (the pizzicato scherzo a particular highlight) and Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet.  Here the four players reached deep inside music which seemed steeped in the longing and lost happiness of a young composer who sadly knows that he will never regain his health.  Schubert died just four years later, at the age of 31.

This week the Leonore Piano Trio took to the stage to give searching, intelligent performances of an early Beethoven Trio (in G), the beautiful, yearning Elegy by Josef Suk and Dvorak’s (Suk’s father-in-law) Trio in F minor.  Dvorak’s is another work of sharp contrasts, driving energy and fierce passion balanced by wistfulness and intense lyricism.  The Leonore Trio captured it all in playing which intelligently reached out to the distanced audience and achieved excellent balance, using all the extra space to their advantage.



Sacconi Quartet


Ben Hancox, violin


Hannah Dawson, violin


Robin Ashwell, Viola


Cara Berridge, cello



Leonore Piano Trio


Benjamin Nabarro, violin


Gemma Rosefield, cello


Tim Horton, piano




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