LUCY HEWSON: Second Violin





Tuesday 12thMarch at 1.30 pm


We were grateful to the Ensemble Burletta for agreeing to add this special lunchtime concert at Newton Dee to their Aberdeen itinerary. There was a good turnout of members of the Newton Dee Community and several people from farther afield to enjoy what was a very generous and attractive programme. It was introduced in warm, cordial style by members of the Ensemble. What follows is not so much a ‘crit’ but rather a report to provide information to Aberdeen Chamber Music Members who owing to work or other commitments are unable to attend these lunchtime events.

The concert opened with what was one of the encores at Monday’s Concert in Queen’s Cross Church, namely the Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms. As on Monday, the Ensemble launched with a will into this fiery and exciting piece with its well known melody. Tuesday’s audience responded with warm enthusiasm. Hans Gál’s Clarinet Quintet is an attractively euphonious piece and the lively finale is particularly irresistible so it was with this that Ensemble Burletta continued their performance. Bright and fleet of fingers and bows it too delighted the audience.

Both these first two pieces had been played at Monday’s concert but then the Ensemble continued with something different, the second movement, Larghetto, from Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, K581. Shelley Levy’s dreamy long-breathed clarinet part was the star of the show here, supported by fine muted strings.

The Concertante for Clarinet and String Quartet by Joseph Horovitz was also played on Monday but with its often surprising variety of tempi and styles, even including a fragment of fugue, it was also a welcome addition to the programme.

To follow, there was an arrangement for clarinet and string quartet, possibly by Hans Gál of the Scottish Lullaby ‘O, Can Ye Sew Cushions’ it was delightful, played with considerable tenderness.

I was delighted to hear the next piece, a lively movement from the Clarinet Quintet in B flat Major by Carl Maria von Weber. I don’t know why I have heard so little of his music at live concerts. I have come across the music of Webern far more often.

The Ensemble concluded their performance with what was their second encore on Monday, a special arrangement of The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen. I think everybody in the audience recognised that melody. Did you know that it was composed by Mary Webb, an English Lady who never visited Aberdeen? I have only ever seen the Northern Lights in Aberdeen once, a few years ago – an event so rare that my grand niece and nephew were got out of their beds by their parents and driven in their pyjamas and dressing gowns to the edge of the town so that they could see them clearly. The first singer to perform the song was the Scottish tenor Robert Wilson and then, years later the Alexander Brothers, but now I can add Ensemble Burletta to that list!


Ensemble Burletta at Phoenix Hall – 12th March 2019: Review