Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven

In Montcabrier, in the Lot department in south-western France, for the fifteenth edition of the ‘8 de Montcabrier’ festival. An enjoyable evening of Classical era compositions from Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven from an ensemble of excellent musicians, including Spanish flautist Vincens Prats, clarinetist Juncal Salada-Codina, also from Spain, French pianist Morgane Fauchois-Prado and a string quartet of members of the Orchestre de Paris.

Members of the ‘8 de Montcabrier’ ensemble

The concert opened with Mozart’s ‘Flute Quartet no. 1’, which was written in 1777 during his period in Mannheim. It was a lively performance, with some stylish playing by flautist Vincens Prats

The first half continued with Haydn’s ‘String Quartet in D major’, known as ‘The Frog’, which is the last of the set of six ‘Prussian Quartets’, dedicated to King Frederick William II of Prussia. ┬áThe finale contains a rapid repetition of the same note on adjacent strings, which some thought sounded like a croaking frog, hence the work’s nickname. First violinist, Pascale Meley, produced an extremely spirited performance.

The second half consisted of Beethoven’s ‘Trio for clarinet, cello and piano’, which was, for me, the most enjoyable performance of the evening, with particularly accomplished playing by clarinetist Juncal Salada-Codina

Mozart: ‘Flute Quartet no. 1, in D major’, K285; Haydn: ‘String Quartet in D major, ‘The Frog’, opus 50, no. 6; Beethoven: ‘Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in B flat major’, opus 11, no. 4.

Quatuor Agate and Adi Neuhaus in Paunat

At the Musique en Sol festival in Paunat, in the Dordogne department of France, for an excellent and varied concert with Quatuor Agate and Israeli pianist Adi Neuhaus.

Quatuor Agate

Adi Neuhaus

The concert opened with Chopin’s ‘Fantasy in F minor’, a very expressive single-movement work, generally regarded as one of the composer’s finest. It was very passionately played by Adi Neuhaus. The first half continued with Beethoven’s ‘String Quartet no. 13’. Completed during the final years of the composers life, the Quartet was controversial when first performed. The final movement, a difficult lengthy fugue, was negatively received and was replaced. However, it has been resurrected in recent performances and recordings, as it was by the Agate Quartet this evening, enabling the work to be heard as Beethoven originally intended. The whole piece was extremely well played, but the fugue was superb.

The ‘Piano Quintet’ of Shostakovich completed the evening’s performance. Written for the Beethoven Quartet in 1940, it was a great success on it’s first performance at the Moscow Conservatory and received the Stalin Prize. Tonight it was also extremely well played by the joint forces of Adi Neuhaus and the Agate Quartet. Whilst lurking dark shadows could often be discerned, especially from the piano, not surprising given the period during which it was written, the work was dramatically, sometimes even flamboyantly, performed, with the scherzo particularly enjoyable.

Chopin; ‘Fantasy in f minor’, opus 49; Beethoven: ‘String Quartet no. 13 in b flat major’, opus 130, with ‘Grosse Fuge’, opus 133; Shostakovich: ‘Quintet for Piano and Strings in g minor’, opus 57.