Thursday, September 20, 2012


St John's Church, Danbury

For the third of these biennial celebrations, Festival Director Robert Atchison brought his acclaimed London Piano Trio to the Parish Church in Danbury, where the composer lies buried.

With Olga Dudnik, piano, and David Jones, cello, he chose for this year the Yorkshire Dales Trio: very English music, evocative of a landscape Gibbs knew well, Walden, with a folk-song feel to its melodic line, the mournful Whernside, and a dancing Vivace for Woodale. Beautifully crafted for this intimate combination, and played with affection and attention to detail.

They were joined by William Hawkes, viola, for Mozart's first Piano Quartet with its exuberant finale, and by Christopher Laurence, bass, for Schubert's ever-popular Piano Quintet in A. In the Variations which give it its name, the trout stream was not particularly fast-flowing, but agreeably limpid with no shortage of sparkle.

This enterprising Festival also included a church service, a lunch, and an organ recital, in which Gillian Ward Russell sashayed down the aisle for a fascinating programme of works inspired by the dance, from Susato's Mohrentanz to Rawsthorn's catchy Dance Suite, with more than a hint of the fairground. Three Sketches by Armstrong Gibbs afforded a moment or two of quiet contemplation amongst the jigs and gavottes.

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