The Vanbrugh Quartet – The Mill at Roxwell
A uniquely agreeable evening at the Mill in Roxwell last week: the Vanbrugh Quartet playing to raise funds for the new Essex Chamber Orchestra.
Jim and Pat Smith have a lovely house, with the new “barn” attached – in fact a tiny concert hall, with a good acoustic and a view of the garden. It is a rare pleasure to hear chamber music in such an ideal setting.
Violinist Gregory Ellis – who played the Brahms concerto with the ESO last month – met Elizabeth Charleson [violin] and Simon Aspell [viola] when they were all studying at the Royal Academy. Cellist Christopher Marwood joined them last November.
They have just secured a two-year contract with RTE [the equivalent of the BBC in Eire], before they go off to Canada for an international competition. The tape they submitted to qualify included the three works that made up the substantial but well-balanced programme we heard at the Mill.
Mozart’s Quartet in C [K465], with its beautiful Andante Cantabile and exhilrating Allegro Molto finale, is often dubbed the Dissonance Quartet, since its opening sounded harsh to eighteenth-century ears. What would they have made of the Prokofiev which followed ? Rhythmically exciting, including references to many Russian Jewish themes.
To conclude, the Vanbrughs gave us a fresh, enthusiastic account of one of the peaks of the repertoire – Beethoven’s B flat Quartet opus 130.