PCM 7: Nash Ensemble / Mark Padmore - Cadogan Hall, 1 September 2008
The Monday lunchtime Cadogan Hall chamber concerts may be shoved into the corner of the Proms schedules but they offer up some rare treats.
First up was the rarely-heard Clarinet Quintet by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a fellow student of Vaughan Williams. Its gentle charm is spread rather thinly over its thirty-odd minutes. Although this particular line up of the fluidly-staffed Nash Ensemble was sensitive and well-balanced and most certainly did the work justice, it's not one I'll be rushing to hear again any time soon.
Before Mark Padmore could sing, he had to submit to interrogation on teh Poetry of AE Housman and teh Landscapes of Vaughan Williams by some red-socked, wind-stuffed Uncle Monty from Radio 3 - fascinating for us in the audience, but not the kindest way to prepare for half an hour of singing.
It was also an opportunity to study Mark Padmore's latest hair escapade, this time a number 2/beardlet combo that looked like he'd sprayed his head with superglue and rolled in iron filings. He's lucky the photo hasn't come out too well.
He's an old hand at On Wenlock Edge, and consistently proves that it's one of Vaughan Williams's most underrated works. Its pastoral lyricism is undercut with bitterness and foreboding, brilliantly revealed in the dramatic extremes of Padmore's performance. The arrangement is for strings is sometimes bizarre and exploratory, often penetratingly evocative, and the Nash Ensemble again displayed great sensitivity.
Worth missing lunch for.