‘German Romantics’ at Wigmore Hall, and the 2018 Bath Mozartfest
Two of the most beguiling musical events in England this autumn are linked by one group, and one woman. At the Wigmore Hall, which has some claim to be the epicenter of musical life in London, a series of recitals by the Nash Ensemble, “German Romantics,” began on October 20 and continues on November 24 with a rich feast of Brahms, Weber, Schumann, and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder sung by Christine Rice. The series is scheduled in what Americans might call monthly “double-headers” on Saturday afternoons and evenings, totaling twelve concerts and ending in March.
On Friday November 9, the 28th Bath Mozartfest opens at the Assembly Rooms in Bath, amid the pastel shades of Austen’s heroines, with the Jerusalem Quartet playing the Mozart “Hunt” Quartet and Schubert’s Quintet in C Major, featuring Gary Hoffman as the second cello. Two other fine string quartets, the Takács and the Belcea, are playing over the nine days of the festival. On November 11 the pianist Angela Hewitt plays Mozart and Beethoven’s “Waldstein,” and on November 13, that marvelous mezzo Sarah Connolly, famous as Handel’s Julius Caesar and recently a memorable Fricka in the Royal Opera’s Ring Cycle, sings Schubert, Debussy, and John Ireland.
One especially enticing event in the Assembly Rooms is on Saturday morning, November 10. The Nash Ensemble will play Mozart, the Beethoven Septet, and Weber’s Clarinet Quintet with Michael Collins. Rightly described by the Sunday Times as “a unique ensemble at the heart of British music making,” they comprise a group of instrumentalists of very high quality. It seems invidious to mention the violinist Benjamin Nabarr, the bassoonist Ursula Leveaux, and the cellist Adrian Brendel as particularly ear-catching, because the whole band is so good.
Behind it stands the remarkable figure of Amelia Freedman, an animating spirit as ever in her seventy-eighth year. Among many achievements, she has been Artistic Director of the Nash Ensemble since she founded it in 1964 (in which time she has commissioned more than 170 new works for them), and of the Mozartfest since 1995. All that, and she sang in the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night. If you polled English musicians and music lovers as to who has done most for musical life in the country over the past half century, very many would nominate Amelia Freedman. Oh, and she’s an Arsenal supporter. A truly admirable woman.
Bath, United Kingdom