Review: Effervescence and wit from Ensemble 360 in Leamington

Clive Peacock reviews Ensemble 360 at the Spa Centre, Leamington

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:52 pm
Ensemble 360

It would be challenging to identify a musical group making a greater contribution to Leamington Music’s success over many years than Ensemble 360. From very early Bridge House days to the Pump Room and sometimes the Spa Centre, the Sheffield-based team have, without fail, demonstrated competence admired by enthusiastic audiences. Their Totally Mozart concert placed horn player, Naomi Atherton, in the limelight playing the composer’s horn concerto scored for chamber ensemble, K407. Naomi’s charm plus Mozart’s wit and tenderness created an elegant partnership with the strings, notably the andante.

Gemma Rosefield stole the limelight with a dramatic entry to the opening movement of Mozart’s String Quintet in C K515. The allegro is in an extended sonata form with a hint at times of the overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Ensemble 360 capture so persuasively the work’s leisured grace in this movement. The effervescent, witty last movement, allegro, brings the work to a mighty climax with a forte conclusion. Ensemble 360 at their best!

A now venerable, imposing Matthew Hunt joined his colleagues to play Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A K581. Since those early Bridge House Theatre days, Hunt has travelled far building a fine reputation in Germany and in the UK with the Royal Scottish Conservatoire and RNCM. This quintet is Hunt’s most favoured work; he spoke enthusiastically about the fun Mozart had playing with a number of ideas over and over again – he was writing Così fan tutte at the time.

Hunt’s capacity to create a beautifully rounded, velvety tone combined with phrases of rare imagination completed another very successful day for Ensemble 360. In the morning they accompanied narrator Polly Ives in a performance designed for the next generation of music lovers, Paul Rissmann’s Sir Scallywag and the Battle of Stinky Bottom.