Sur ta lèvre pure, ô ma bien-aimée,
Telle aussi mon âme eut voulu mourir,
Du premier baiser qui l’a parfumée.
The dreamy setting of Coibri by Ernest Chausson telling of a hummingbird who sups too much love 'from the rosy cup' seemed to catch the languid mood on one of the warmest days we've enjoyed this summer. Expressively sung by tenor Phillip Keegan with sunlight flooding in the Large Room from the Georgian windows, the song was just one of the many highlights of a programme presented by pianist Billy O Brien. "A concert of summer classics that will wow you" was promised in the publicity and wow us they most certainly did in the nicely balanced programme featuring various permutations of five performers, all young professionals in the early stages of their careers. On violin was Siobhan Doyle and Marian Power. The cellist was Yseult Cooper-Stockdale. As well as Borodin, Schumann and Elgar, we also heard a premiere of a new work by Ben Hanlon who introduced the work in his self deprecating manner. His Piano Quartet no 1 was a series of four reflections taking inspiration from eclectic sources; Autumn leaves, the rhythms of politicians names and a gruesome painting of a Pictish Warrior. The writing was lively with much colourful interplay between the parts.
An encore of Gardel's Por Una Cabeza brought the audience to their feet but that was not the end of the proceedings. Aside from the excellent musicianship displayed, the evening was extraordinary on another front. It was packed with more than 200 patrons and many under the age 30. Not since Joanna McGregor performed here have I seen a full house for a classical music programme. When the music stopped, another soundscape kicked in. The sound of buzz of conversation resonated in the room for a long time as the audience which included many family and friends of the musicians lingered to chat, take some snaps and generally savour the magic. Bravo Billy and Friends and Ben Hanlon. It was marvellous!.