Opera + Classical Music Reviews

The North York Moors Chamber Music Festival begins with two superb performances

13 August 2022

There were definitely no ‘boos’, but plenty of ‘baas’.


Piano quartet in E flat major (Photo: Matthew Johnson)

The title of this long-running, enterprising festival probably conjures up wild, lonely moorland and gritty, down to earth folks, but don’t be deceived – the setting is positively bucolic (you might be in East Horsley), ‘le tout Ryedale’ makes up most of the audience, and ‘M’wah, darleeng’ is far more likely to be heard than ‘Eyup, lass.’  So, Londoners, do not fear – come up and join all the boomers who escaped the smoke and bought golden stone houses in these idyllic places that resemble not so much Happy Valley as Bourton-on-the Water.

Oh, and ‘do give over’ (as they say in these parts) imagining that all you’ll hear is a bunch of well-meaning local amateurs during this festival; far from it, you’ll find some of the most renowned musicians in their fields, and the opening concert was no exception. Beethoven’s Piano trio in B flat major op 11 featured a Principal Cellist from the London Symphony Orchestra, and Dvořák’s Piano quartet in E flat major op 87 included the renowned Jamie Walton amongst the players. Not only did all the musicians have to cope with 32° heat, but they faced competition from a passing swift, a flapping canvas and several ‘sheep obbligato’. They played as if they were in a cool Wigmore Hall, and in fact their performances would not have been out of place inside those hallowed walls.

Beethoven’s Piano trio places exceptional demands upon the pianist, and Christian Chamorel met them with aplomb, from that barrage of semiquavers in the first movement to the vibrant phrases of the Allegretto. Rebecca Gilliver’s introduction to the wonderful Adagio was a lesson in legato playing, and Charlotte Scott led the ensemble with beautiful tone and empathetic style.

“…join all the boomers who escaped the smoke and bought golden stone houses in these idyllic places…”


Piano trio in B flat major (Photo: Matthew Johnson)

Around the time of the composition of his Piano quartet in E flat major, Dvořák wrote “My head is so full, if a human being could only write it down straight away!” and that sense of so many ideas coming tumbling out of his pen is felt throughout the music, most especially in the second movement and the finale. Benjamin Baker led the ensemble with panache, ably supported by Irina Simon-Renes, and the ‘cello and piano were in the safe hands of Jamie Walton and Daniel Lebhardt. It was no surprise  to find that Baker and Lebhardt are frequent collaborators in chamber music.

The next couple of weeks promise further delights, with a performance of Winterreise on the 18th and Schubert’s String quintet in C D956. Highly recommended, but do watch out when planning to visit – there are two Welburns, just about twenty miles apart, and this is not the one near Castle Howard, with the renowned Crown & Cushion dispensing great food. This one is just off the A170 between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside, and if you’d like lunch or dinner before or after a concert you’ll need  to go to the wonderful village of Wombleton, just four minutes away, where you’ll find the Plough Inn with its excellent food, friendly landlady and comfortable surroundings.

• Further details of the North York Moors Chamber Music Festival can be found here.

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The North York Moors Chamber Music Festival begins with two superb performances