Music review: London Conchord Emsemble

(Patrick Allen/Opera Omnia) - The London Conchord Ensemble’s performance at the Library of Congress took advantage of modern instruments’ cultured finish.

The London Conchord Ensemble earned its name in a performance of Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds at a Library of Congress recital Friday.

Concord, in its more traditional spelling, was the salient feature of its reading, with the four wind players dovetailing their phrasing and employing limpid, often creamy, tone. Not for them the piquant wheeze of period-style performance: This was playing that took full advantage of their modern instruments’ cultured finish.

Thanks to pianist Julian Milford’s sprightly manner and crisply accented approach, Mozart’s score emerged with a well-projected shape, never merely wallowing in all that luscious sound. The greater assertiveness and more Romantic style of Beethoven’s otherwise quite similar Quintet for Piano and Winds drew a subtly more robust response from these musicians (with Milford again digging enthusiastically into the piano writing). And in Frank Bridge’s Divertimento for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon, the winds — without losing their luminous sound — took on the kind of acerbic, highly individualized character called for by the terse and enigmatic dialogues Bridge has given to these instruments.

Flutist Daniel Pailthorpe had a fine showcase in Poulenc’s popular Flute Sonata. With playing of airy tone and puckish phrasing, he captured both the other-worldly loveliness of the slow movement and the scampering energy of the finale. Milford’s keyboard work possessed all the elegance and vibrancy the piece demands.

— Joe Banno

 
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