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Review of Katherine Bryer (Oboe) 8 Nov 2021

08 November 2021


Reviewed by Jane Lomax

Huge thanks were given by Chairman of Ripon Concerts, Roger Higson, to the young artists supported by the Countess of Munster Trust at Holy Trinity Church, Ripon on Monday night, 8 November 2021: “We are grateful to you for being with us tonight” he said, “after all the hardships that young striving musicians have had to deal with over the last year, we are privileged that you are still here with us, giving us live music once again.”

A large and enthusiastic audience attended this very varied evening of chamber music for oboe and string trio. Talented, post conservatoire youngsters, all of whom studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, played a very varied programme of Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, Grime & Britten.

I was reminded of the true meaning of chamber music – “playing with friends for one’s own delight and satisfaction”. It was like observing a very gentle, intimate and enjoyable evening of musical entertainment, especially for the first piece – Mozart’s wonderful Oboe Quartet. This is a challenge for any oboist and it was beautifully executed by Katherine Bryer. Maybe a slightly less ambitious tempo in the 1st movement would have allowed more poise and elegance but the performance was most delicately balanced.

This was followed by an arrangement by Colin Matthews of Schumann’s song “Mondnacht” – such a beautiful, again delicate piece. To finish the 1st half, a piece for Oboe Quartet by Helen Grime – this was very atmospheric, unfurling its message from midway in the piece, onwards in a single movement.

After the interval, we heard clever arrangements of two arias from Mozart's "The Magic Flute" for Oboe and Violin. These were great fun both for both performers and audience, intricate for both players and again well executed and balanced.

A one movement string trio by Franz Schubert was next, giving the oboist a well earned rest! Finally, the challenge of Benjamin Britten's "Phantasy Quartet" for Oboe and String Trio. Such a self-contained piece structured in an arch form with elements from the sonata form, growing out of silence and returning to silence at the end, having been through many other moods and tempi on the way through. Such an accomplished work by an 18 year old Britten!

Bravo Ripon Concerts for coming back from the pandemic with such a wonderful concert. Bravo to you for supporting our young, talented musicians following such hard, unsupported times and giving them a platform to help perfect their newly learnt talents. I think we would all agree that it gives us all hope for leaving our beloved music in good hands for the future.

Ripon Concerts is the trading name of the Cathedral Concert Society
Registered Charity No. 1163277

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