Monday, 11 February 2013

Aubrieta Ensemble, Lauderdale House

Last night I went to hear a new chamber ensemble tackling some 19th century quintets. The Aubrieta Ensemble played Hermann Goetz's 1874 Op. 16 quintet and Schubert's Trout at Lauderdale House, the Arts & Education-leaning space on the Highgate foothills. '... formed in 2012 to give London’s finest orchestral musicians the opportunity to perform the rich chamber music repertoire', the Aubrieta Ensemble - on this occasion an all-women quintet - gave a fierce rendition of Goetz's remarkable late quintet.

The music is caught right in that late 19th century craw between the classicism of Brahms and the almost figurative character of Wagner and exhibits both the rigour of the former and the harmonic daring of the latter. Goetz was still young when he completed the work, which has vigorous themes. The attack and strong mid-low range sonorities of the group thrust itself off the back wall of the performing space, making its argument insistently.

If Goetz's quintet is the work of a young man then Schubert's quintet is the work of a child. This hugely accomplished composition, especially for a 22 year old, is celebrated for the variations of its final movement which use the melody of Schubert's own song of the same name. The quintet capably toggled their performing back not only to reflect the more pastoral, lyric style of the earlier composition but also to accommodate the extremely long, singing lines. A pleasant, range-showcasing debut for the group, whose leader Victoria Mavromoustaki, also gave the Schubert Sonatina Op. 137 with her sister Eleni at the piano.