AFTER overcoming my initial disappointment at the small amount of film footage on offer (I think this was misleading in the Kenton Theatre’s programme) I settled down to listen and relax to a lovely afternoon’s entertainment of elegant and sometimes witty music.
The Chamber Ensemble of London provided us with some beautiful ensemble playing, although one of their members was noticeably weaker than the others. That said, there was an excellent rapport between the players with plenty of eye contact and a good balance between the instruments.
Visually, if I’m being picky, I have to say that the men all looked smart in their dinner jackets, but unusually for the ladies they let the side down, with one in long evening wear, one in short evening wear and one in day wear — not a good look. However, violinist and director Peter Fisher doubled up as a competent racconteur, with many interesting stories and facts leading us into each new item.
The cleverly-devised programme suggested the different qualities and moods of our beloved River Thames, with several of the pieces having a royal link as well. The three pieces I particularly enjoyed were all by Clive Jenkins, the first an original piece and the other two arrangements on well-known themes.
Thames Reflections was written in a jazz genre and was very entertaining. The themes bounced back and forth between the first violin and cello in a most amusing manner, the violin portraying the river bank’s skyline and the cello the reflection in the water. The strong affinity between these two players in particular, was no more prevalent than in this lively piece.
The following two Jenkins’ pieces, Variations On The Eton Boat Song and London Bridge, were both accompanied by film sequences provided by the London Film Museum. This required considerable multi-tasking of the senses in order to equally enjoy the visual and aural offerings, and unfortunately, a few audience members took the opportunity to talk over it, which was a slight distraction. However, both pieces were entertaining.
Overall, the players, were enthusiastic with a good deal of empathy between them. This resulted in well-timed entries and a well-balanced sound. This was a most enjoyable Sunday afternoon.