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Bantry House Music - West Cork Chamber Music Festival
Gabriel FAURĖ (1845-1924)
Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor (1879) *
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Quintet in A major (1887) +
Marc-André Hamelin (piano); The Leopold String Trio *; RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet +
rec. Bantry House, West Cork, Ireland, Festival; 28 June-5 July 1998. DDD
Plus documentary: Music in the Air - behind the scenes at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival
WARNER MUSIC/NVC ARTS DVD 50-51442-8810-2-8 [118:00]
Experience Classicsonline

What a delightful DVD this is!

Marc-André Hamelin is featured as celebratory pianist in these engaging performances of two popular tuneful chamber works. First there is Fauré’s lovely, elusive Piano Quartet in C minor. It’s intimate and so well suited to the intimacy of the recital room at Bantry House where the players are located in the centre of the room beneath picture windows looking out onto the lovely Irish countryside. The audience is seated on either side of them. The playfulness of the first movement, the quicksilver delight of the scherzo, the heartfelt introspection of the Adagio third movement and the lighter Finale all shine in this reading. The sunny Dvořák Piano Quintet also receives a vivacious, mercurial performance with rhythms tautly sprung; and Hamelin sparkling particularly in the scherzo.

The 51-minute documentary Magic in the Air makes up the rest of the programme. This is concerned with the derivation and organisation of the annual two-week International West Cork Chamber Music Festival. It’s held in Bantry House and within the lovely little town of Bantry. This is located in the South-West corner of the Republic of Ireland. This lively documentary makes much of the area’s most gorgeous scenery.

The Festival was the brain-child of local farmer and music-lover, Francis Humphrys. His vision was to bring a festival of international standard to West Cork. The film describes how he accomplished this ambition. What comes over very strongly is the informality, friendliness and the sheer joy of shared music-making. One of the delights of the Festival is the mixing of artists, audiences and young musicians eager to further their learning.

The programme includes brief snatches of works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Schnittke and Tchaikovsky. These are played by visiting artists to the 1998 Festival. Besides those listed in the heading of this review the great names include the Leopold String Trio, the Borodin String Quartet, Joanna MacGregor, Juanita Lascarro - singing one of the Akhmatova Songs by John Tavener - and pianist Hugh Tinney.

An altogether delightful musical experience.

Ian Lace 



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