Boxwood and Brass,

Skipton Music

AT first sight the programme for this ensemble looked somewhat mundane. A hurriedly written Sextet by Beethoven, a Mozart Serenade arranged by one of the ensemble, two short movements by Weber and an arrangement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 39.

The ensemble comprises two clarinets, two horns and two bassoons all playing replica period instruments to preserve the authentic sound of the era.

The first item, Beethoven’s Sextet showed that when Beethoven wasn’t inspired, his writing could be mediocre. The players did their best to make it sound good. They were, ‘playing in’ and acclimatising to the ambience of a well packed Skipton Town Hall.

The work served well as an ‘opener’, despite lacking the ongoing drive that we associate with better Beethoven compositions.

However, the second item, Mozart’s Serenade in C minor was a different kettle of fish. It was arranged by bassoonist Robert Percival and gave the players scope to show their command in tone quality and dynamics.

After the interval, the ensemble talked about the instruments pointing out the differences from today’s technological engineering.

Weber’s ‘Adagio and Rondo’ demanded virtuoso technique coupled with a light touch. The ensemble effortlessly delivered both.

The most startling item was Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in Eb. Six wind players performing a Mozart Symphony seemed a reckless undertaking but this was a masterly arrangement. They had to serve not only as a wind section but also they had to represent the power-house of the orchestra, namely the string section. The balance was little short of miraculous with horns powerful enough to drown the rest of the group, playing quickly and quietly. It was an outstanding tour de force.

Adrienne Fox