Review: Birmingham Chamber Music Society, at Adrian Boult Hall

One has total admiration for the Birmingham Chamber Music Society’s imaginative approach in concert promoting. No ordinary programmes for them, but forward thinking to create a platform for exceptional young musicians, commissioning new works and introducing rare treats whenever possible.

The Conservatoire Tutors Ensemble flexed their playing skills to a fascinated audience of students, musicians, dedicated loyal listeners and delighted visitors.

However, all was not totally acceptable as in Schubert’s C Major Fantasie for violin and piano. Not enough preparation time perhaps? Robert Markham’s piano skills high-lighted bland and inaccurate offerings from Nathaniel Vallois, balance was poor and dear Schubert tedious and boring.

Robin Ireland’s lovely, thought-provoking viola in Britten’s Lachrymae was beautifully matched by Markham; imagination stirred by thoughts of desolation and mystery of the east coast.

With Berceuse: ‘To rock to sleep,’ John McCabe, pianist and composer, curiously denies the lullaby aspect of this first performance. From moving yearnings, held pedal blurrings, growling broken chords to discussions between spiky treble and bass repeats, gentle chords eventually died away to infinity leaving a bemused, intrigued audience.

Another first by students in the Poggi Quartet – Graham Waterhouse’s 2011 winning work in the BCMS composition prize: Chinese Whispers. A totally accessible work depicting the mysterious East, very oriental – smiling music, but with many hours of hard work required to create such a crisp and interesting presentation. All splendidly worthwhile.

And finally, with no need for any introduction, Schubert’s ever-delightful Trout Quintet. What a treat, especially with velvety contributions from double bass and heart-stopping cello solos.