Wigmore Hall, 15 October 2022, Vaughan Williams 150th Anniversary Concert
"Britain’s most venerable small-scale group, the Nash Ensemble…"
"It took the perfect focus and sensitivity of Adrian Brendel and Philip Moore to reveal the quiet but burning glow of these little pieces."
Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph, October 2022 "the performances were first -class throughout, could it be otherwise with players from the Nash Ensemble?"
"the core of musicality in the programme was very definitely the masterly subtlety of cellist Adrian Brendel"
David Nice, The Arts Desk October 2022 "Given the concert featured players from the Nash Ensemble, there was no doubt that the instrumental work would be first class, and all of the ensemble items demonstrated not only a co-ordination between players born of long association, but a consummate understanding of the idiom, such that the small dramas of the music were dextrously performed, and each of the works was given bags of the luxuriant intensity that one would hope for from this period."
Barry Creasy, Music OMH, October 2022
Harrison Birtwistle: Duet for Eight Strings; Piano Trio; Oboe Quartet; Pulse Sampler - BIS 2561(CD/SACD)
"Harrison Birtwistle's Duet For Eight Strings ends as it begins; gradually, its stilted phrases punctuated by silence. The one movement work, commissioned by featured performers the Nash Ensemble, has been extended since its first performance in 2019 and now spans almost 20 minutes, during which everything and nothing happens. The piece is brightly coloured, yet the shading feels subtle to the point of insignificance. Patchwork sections are neatly joined and despite the varied textures the stitches are invisible. The overall shape is fuzzy; there are moments of irritation rather than climax. The occasionally rasping timbre is contrasted by exhalations from both viola and cello - as well as viola player and cellist. The breathy expressions heard by Lawrence Power and Adrian Brendel do not distract in this premiere recording.
Birtwistle's recent works have tended to develop in stages. The Oboe Quartet evolved from a single piece into a four-movement work. Oboist Gareth Hulse impresses in this complex, fragmented soundworld that blends spiky outbursts and extended notes with a pared-back third movement. Pulse Sampler similarly grew from music originally composed in 1981, with a more varied percussion part added in 2018. The continuous oboe part and ever-changing pulse (set by percussionist Richard Benjafield) is perfectly managed by Melinda Maxwell.
The Trio is more of a 'Duo', as the violin and cello are treated almost as one instrument, in duet with the piano. There are moments when it seems as though the piano is playing an entirely different piece, only to be neatly reintegrated before this could be problematic. The balance is impeccable, as is the case throughout this collection."
Claire Jackson, BBC Music Magazine
Ferdinand Ries Piano Trio and Sextets – Hyperion CDA 68380
"Ries is on the rise in this convincing reassessment."
"Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) has long been lurking in the shadows of musical history, simply thought of as Beethoven's student, amanuensis and agent (as a director of the Philharmonic Society, he helped to secure the commission for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony). His father had been one of Beethoven's tutors in Bonn, and he himself became one of Beethoven's two pupils in Vienna (the other was Carl Czerny). Though seldom regarded as a composer in his own right, he was eminent both in that role and as a virtuoso pianist.
So it's good to hear his music brilliantly performed by musicians of the Nash Ensemble. Beethoven apparently once said that Ries 'imitates me too much', and it's certainly true that the C minor Piano Trio came over as very faithful to the master's style. But Ries seems on the whole to have been very much his own man, restlessly inventive, skilled at filigree ornamentation and at controlling tension and release, and at creating dramatic atmosphere.
The Grand Sextet is a splendidly heroic work, with its virtuoso pianism enthusiastically delivered here by Simon Crawford-Phillips. Its Andante has artless charm, being a set of variations on the Irish song 'The Last Rose of Summer' which Beethoven himself twice arranged, and it includes a short but mysterious cadenza which seems to come out of the blue, and go back into it. The Introduction and a Russian Dance for piano and cello (excellent Adrian Brendel) was aimed at the amateur market, but the intriguing G minor Sextet harks back to Mozart in its sunny conviviality, All these works should be in the mainstream chamber repertoire.
Michael Church, BBC Music Magazine
Ferdinand Ries Piano Trio and Sextets – Hyperion CDA 68380
"All in performances of exemplary standard customarily expected from the Nash Ensemble"
Gramophone "The Nash Ensemble bring Ries out of Beethoven’s shadow with these substantial rediscoveries. Excellent performances."
BBC Record Review "Ferdinand Ries Sextet for harp, piano, clarinet, bassoon, horn and double bass… It's a rewarding piece and you won't hear it more persuasively played than this"
Hyperion CDA68307: Fanny Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D minor Op.11; String Quartet in E flat; Clara Schumann Piano Trio in G minor Op.17
'The performance of the Nash Ensemble is exemplary, especially the pianism of Simon Crawford-Phillips in the two trios. Indeed, this is a performance that sheds new light on this music as it exhorts the romantic nature of the music. This is a recording that makes you listen to the music for its own merits, rather than as curios by female composers… A recording which is highly recommended, one which offers the three works in some of the best available recordings of them, especially when presented in this generous coupling.'
Stuart Sillitoe, MusicWeb International "These well recorded and beautifully played performances get inside the musical dynamics of these enormously appealing works and in the case of the piano trios, make a good case for their having an enduring presence in the repertoire." Performance *****
BBC Music Magazine "Album of the week' Chamber music at its best. Recordings of such rarities only make sense if the quality is also good. And that is what the members of the Nash Ensemble stand for with their brilliance and elegance, their passion and their instinct for sound. This is chamber music at its finest - more of that, please!"
BR Classik - Public German Radio Station of the Bayerscher Rundfunk
NMC CD: Julian Anderson Poetry Nearing Silence
"These recordings… are not only technically immaculate but also demonstrate the Nash Ensemble's trademark commitment to contemporary repertoire that challenges performers in music blending forcefulness and economy, subtlety and spontaneity, to beguiling effect."
Gramophone "Form and expression, colour and character become adventures in sound… The Nash Ensemble prove exceptional collaborators."
BBC Music Magazine
The Nash Ensemble's fine celebration of Alexander Goehr at (nearly) 90
"The Nash Ensemble, long standing champions of his music, (presented) a celebratory concert including no fewer than two Goehr premieres… beautifully handled both as a work and performance…"
Seen and Heard International
Max Bruch Piano Trio and other chamber music CDA 68343
"Let these five elite chamber musicians convert you to the cause… you won’t find better advocates"
Max Bruch String Quintets and String Octet – Hyperion CDA 68168
"This is a superb account… they play beautifully as an ensemble of real feeling and intimacy."
"The playing… was incisive, transparent and beautifully shaped. Chamber music doesn't come any better."
The Independent on Sunday