Reviews of past concerts

The Aurora Wind Ensemble 18th May 2017.

The Uckfield Music Club started the 2017 season with a fine concert by the Aurora Wind Ensemble, their second visit to the Club.  Today they were joined by pianist Joanna Smith. There was wind outside St. Margaret’s as well as within, and some very determined rain, but that didn’t prevent a good audience from turning up.  They were wise to come: it isn’t every day that you can hear such a rich and varied programme, book-ended by the two great quintets for piano and wind by Mozart and Beethoven.

Mozart’s Quintet dates from 1784, and is a fully mature work, wonderfully inventive and beautifully crafted.  Mozart thought it was ‘the best I’ve written in my entire life’.  The Aurora Ensemble played it with subtle clarity – no ostentation, but plenty of musical passion.  And this was true of the other pieces in the programme also.  Beethoven’s Quintet, which ended the concert, is an early work, intentionally modelled on the Mozart, but full of a very Beethovenian energy. In both quintets (which resemble concertos for small forces) the pianist was absolutely outstanding – limpid and incisive in equal measure.  She had plenty to do also in Glinka’s rarely-heard Trio Pathétique (with clarinet and bassoon) and, after the interval, The Nocturno for horn and piano by Franz Strauss, father of Richard Strauss.

After the warm romantic sounds of the Strauss, the kaleidoscope changed again and we were treated to the Triolet for oboe, clarinet and bassoon by Richard Walthew.  This was an engaging, rather unusual piece in four short, well-contrasted movements – relatively unambitious, perhaps, but distinctive and beautifully written.  It would be good to hear more by this contemporary and friend of Vaughan Williams.

This was an excellent programme, presented with a perfect mix of friendly introductions – each piece was introduced by a different member of the Ensemble – and superb performances.  A fantastic start to the season!


Julian Broughton, May 2017.