Musici Ireland in the National Concert Hall, John Field Room, August 28th 2014

Musici Ireland is a mixed chamber group which makes a selling point of its versatility – the group performs repertoire of every dimension from duo to chamber orchestra. There is a dimensional disparity in another sense in the programme today: the two Schubert works played are one movement and five movements long, respectively.

The brevity of the first work, written when Schubert was nineteen, can be explained by the fact that it was left unfinished. A fragment of a slow movement also exists along with the movement played here. The piece is lighthearted, beautiful and entirely assured. Ioana Petcu Colan’s violin playing is the highlight, expressive but unsentimental.

The bulk of the concert is taken up by Schubert’s famous Trout Quintet. Written at the slightly older age of twenty two, it mostly lacks the melancholic profundity of Schubert’s later chamber works but possesses all his characteristic charm and wit, along with his unmatched capacity for melody. The piece is competently played in general, with Petcu Colan sticking out again along with pianist Michael McHale. The inner strings seem fearful of being too loud for long stretches and could benefit from a more assertive approach to the music. All five musicians do well to avoid the common pitfall of treating everything in Schubert as song-like – most of the more aggressive moments in the work are suitably attacked.

This concert brings Musici’s residence in the John Field Room to an end. The most striking thing about this final concert is the choice of programme: pairing the famous (and audience-grabbing) masterwork with an obscure little gem is a clever approach and the combination works well in every respect.

Programme

Schubert – String Trio in B flat Major D471

Schubert – Trout Quintet

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