Saturday 10th November - to Norwich for the first UK performance of a new work by Jane O'Leary. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, and with degrees from Princeton University and Vassar College, Jane O'Leary (right) has lived in Galway in Eire since 1976, and is a central figure in the musical life there, both as administrator and composer. (The photo below shows her with Irish new music ensemble Concorde). For the past three years the Con Tempo Quartet from Romania have been Quartet-in-Residence in Galway, and they came to Norwich with Jane O'Leary to perform her Piano Quintet No 2, which was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, with the composer taking the piano part.
The Quintet, which was given its first performance in Dublin three weeks ago, is a four movement work without programme or formal structure. It uses the strings almost as a single voice to compliment the piano and produce abstract sound pictures. This is very much a contemporary work, and the pianist works the strings of her instrument with her hands as well as the keys. But judging by the positive reaction of the essentially conservative Norwich audience this is new music that connects with the past as well as the future. Kudos to Norwich and Norfolk Music for bringing this praiseworthy new work and its composer from the extreme west of the British Isles to the extreme east. The excellent pre-concert talk and discussion by Jane O'Leary also helped build an audience for this new music.
The rest of the Con Tempo's programme had James Lisney as pianist, and comprised Elgar's Piano Quintet (if the truth be told not the most persuasive adviocacy of this beautiful and moving work), and George Enecu's 1940 Piano Quintet (Op 29). Enescu is a very underrated 20th century composer, and his Piano Quintet is a superb work that deserves a much wider audience. The Con Tempo Quartet were clearly in their element playing the music of their fellow Romanian, and James Lisney is a longtime advocate of Enescu's music. The closing pages of the Quintet are quite overwhelming, search out a performance or recording if you possibly can.
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to First performance - Douglas Weiland's Second Piano Trio, Pavey Ark
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