Review: Ensemble Mirage, Chichester Chamber Concerts,  Assembly Room, Chichester

Ensemble Mirage
Ensemble Mirage

The last concert of the 2017 – 2018 Season in the Assembly Room Chichester, was well-attended by a large and appreciative audience.

On this occasion the Ensemble Mirage consisted of a string quartet with clarinet played by the founder of the group Matthew Scott.

The concert opened with an introduction by Matthew Scott about the clarinet in Mozart’s day. In fact, he had decided to play this 1789 work on the basset clarinet which he demonstrated as the probable instrument used for the first performance of Mozart’s ground-breaking Clarinet Quintet in A major K581. The basset clarinet has a much lower range and is a good foot longer than the standard clarinet. This means that the extensive and brilliant arpeggios can be played in the full range of several octaves as intended.

Having said that, and in spite of Matthew Scott’s incredible skill, the basset clarinet has quite a different sonority to the normal clarinet. The balance between the upper strings on the one hand and the basset clarinet and cello on the other, was very much in favour of the lower pitches and it was difficult to pick out the violin line in some of the harmonies.

For the rest of this excellent concert we were treated to the wonderful sounds of the standard clarinet timbre melding with the strings, and the Ensemble playing as one “instrument”. This was especially true of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet which ended the concert. The other works featured in the concert were an idiosyncratic quintet by Jean Françaix and a beautiful Rêverie Orientale by Glazunov.

Raymond Greenlees

For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2
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