THE seventh Music at Paxton Festival got off to an explosive start last weekend, writes Neil Butterworth.
Scottish pianist Alasdair Beatson burst on to the scene with a brilliant performance of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy.
Later in the evening he joined the Scottish Ensemble in Schubert’s Trout Quintet, a work totally suitable for the sympathetic acoustics of the Paxton Picture Gallery.
Earlier in the programme, they had captured the audience’s concentration with a passionate account of Schumann’s seldom-heard Piano Quartet in E Flat.
On Saturday evening, a warm welcome was given to the Carducci Quartet, making their debut at the festival.
Their well-deserved reputation was evident in the delights of Haydn’s Sunrise Quartet and Debussy’s String Quartet.
The strongest impact was created with Mendelssohn’s F minor Quartet, a tragic expression of the composer’s feelings after the death of his sister.
Sunday afternoon saw the most welcome return of Pure Brass, now regular visitors.
As always, their programme, ranging from Handel to Beatles songs, was conveyed with humour and astounding virtuosity.
For the evening event, the baritone William Berger, accompanied by pianist Iain Burnside, devised a programme of various songs on the subject of insomnia, settings of nocturnal poems by many composers, from Mozart to Hugo Wolf and Peter Warlock.
Particularly moving was Schubert’s Auf der Brucke, Mandoline by Fauré and Liszt’s setting of Victor Hugo’s Oh, Quand Je Dors.
William Berger is a name to watch, with his warm baritone voice and a gift for communication with the listeners.
The festival continues this weekend – full details in the What’s On section and at www.musicatpaxton.co.uk