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About this performance

Britten Phantasy Quartet
Poulenc Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano
Brahms Piano Quartet No. 3

Kathryn Taylor violin
Gabrielle Halloran viola
Miranda Brockman cello
Michael Pisani oboe
Brock Imison bassoon
Kenji Fujimura piano

The concert
Intimacy and revelation.

This stunning concert of Britten, Brahms and Poulenc provides a window into the souls of these remarkable artists.

Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy Quartet, composed when he was only 19, had a rather lukewarm reception when the BBC broadcast it back in 1933, even though it won him the prestigious Cobbett Prize the year before. The Times thought it, “did not build to a satisfying whole”. But perhaps this misses the point. Seen in the context of the English composer’s entire oeuvre, the work contains many elements that would go on to define his singular genius.

Brahms was a particular influence on Britten, who claimed that, “at the ages of 13 and 16 I knew every note of Beethoven and Brahms”. The Piano Quartet No. 3 was written when Brahms was living with Clara Schumann, helping her run the household while her husband, Brahms’ mentor Robert Schumann was in an asylum. It is ostensibly dedicated to Goethe, and his character Werther, though it’s possible to detect Johannes’ feelings for Clara amid the work’s swirling Romanticism.

Rounding out this intimate concert is French composer Francis Poulenc’s extraordinary Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano. It’s an unusual combination of instruments, however they sound perfectly matched. Effortlessly melodic and witty, it is a perfect demonstration of the composer’s distinct style.

These three beautiful works give an intriguing insight into their composers’ internal reflections, and together make a rich and revealing morning of music.

Running time
1 hour and 5 minutes, no interval.

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