Rapidly approaching its quarter-century, the annual “Autumn in Malvern” festival doughtily presents a well-chosen programme of events, and brings a wide range of performers, with a particular emphasis on the young, to Elgarshire.
The London Concertante, attractively youthful, fresh-faced, and with a heartwarming rapport both between themselves and with the audience, concluded the month-long musical proceedings with a sweeping overview of English music for string orchestra, under the title “An English Idyll”.
Where the surprise addition of Astor Piazzolla’s haunting Oblivion milonga fitted into this is not quite clear, but for the rest we savoured a soundscape ranging from Purcell to Tippett (wot, no Elgar?).
Performances from these 12 players (most of them standing, as has become the mode) were crisp, well-rounded, if not entirely tidy, and fresh, bringing huge emotional commitment and sense of structure to the amazing Purcell Chacony.
It was good to hear the Britten-organised Sellenger’s Round, several composers contributing variations on this Elizabethan theme (Britten’s strange use of the word – why not “tune”?), and the airy exuberance of Tippett’s Little Music for Strings.
But best of all in the selection was the opportunity to meet John Ireland’s Concertino Pastorale, a gripping work which begins in austerity and moves into gorgeously generous melodiousness before ending in biting energy.