Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Ventures in Chamber Music

Mozart Piano Quartet in G minor
Stanford   Piano Quartet in F major
Dvorak No 1 in D major
My Lagan Love  trad arr McHale

 The Vanbrugh roll on as trio since the retirement of their violinist Greg Ellis. A 4th wheel was added by pianist Michael McHale at a recital at City Hall Waterford last Thursday. McHale was last heard here with clarinettist Michael Collins. Piano quartets are not often heard on the concert platform. String quartets when they collaborate with a pianist will more usually play a quintet rather than leave a player sitting out.  The three quartets heard at the first recital on the Waterford-Music recital series in 2018 were unfamiliar to me. It was a thrilling if slightly terrifying experience to sit at the City Hall Steinway as page turner and see at close range the black dots of the score transformed into cascades of sound by the superb playing of McHale. The surprise of the evening was the quartet by Stanford, a four movement work full of contrast and exuberance. An encore of a gorgeous arrangement of the slow air My Lagan Love made the audience melt at the close. It was great to see a good house in to enjoy a terrific evening.

If you missed the tour, the Vanbrugh with McHale have a few dates coming up at the NCH and UCC later in Feb and March when they add a trio by Schubert and quartet by Schumann to the programme.
 Details here

Portraits: Debut of McGill/McHale Trio on Cedille Records

Pianist Michael McHale adds to his expanding discography with this most unusual collaboration. Flute and  clarinet merge with  piano in an attractive and refreshing programme of contemporary works. Adding much to the pleasure of the collection  is the addition of spoken word delivered by the clear measured voice of actor Mahershala Ali. The title of the album is taken from Portraits; a series of a dozen poems by American poet and social activist Langston Hughes.  Hughes I discover hailed from Joplin Missouri and is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City.The poems punctuate musical portraits by Valerie Coleman. I  enjoyed the suite of dance movements by Paul Schoenfield . McHale's flair for arrangement is beautifully  demonstrated in arrangements of Rachmaninov's Vocalise and The Lark in the Clear Air which suits the wind timbre perhaps,dare I say it, better than TC Kelly's violin and piano arrangement that we are more familiar with.

More rare quartet repertoire coming up at the next recital in Waterford on 1st March. Musici Ireland features Waterford's Emmet Byrne on oboe in a Mozart Oboe Quartet. Emmet is a member of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Related posts Q&A with Michael McHale

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