Dante Quartet with Robert Taub (piano)
Sherwell Centre, University of Plymouth
Would the Arts Institute at the University of Plymouth carry it off again, we wondered?
Understandably there was a fair bit of pre-concert hype surrounding the inaugural concert in their new Musica Viva Series, it was one in one of the city’s most iconic venues, the all-Mozart programme would be pretty popular, especially when it brought a class act like the London Mozart Players to the city, and was able to give Music Director, Bob Taub, an opportunity to play one of the composer’s best-loved piano concertos, on a Steinway concert-grand, specially brought in for the occasion. Even knowing the occasional vagaries of Plymouth’s classical audiences over the years, the odds were very much stacked in favour of it generating a full house on the night – which it did.
Fighting for seats
Bob Taub chose quite a different path for this second concert of the series, one which again featured a top-quality international outfit, on this occasion the Dante Quartet. The Dantes, while essentially London based, are no strangers to audiences in this area, and their annual Dante Festival based in the Tamar Valley has delighted concert-goers for many years now, but the programme was certainly more challenging – chamber music with quartets by Debussy and Szymanowski, followed by Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, though which again gave Bob the opportunity to take part on the night. But they got it right once more, and you had to fight to get a seat even for the now-regular pre-concert talk
The next recital in the series, on Saturday October 12, is a voice-and-piano affair, something which even the illustrious former Plymouth Chamber Music Trust occasionally found slightly more difficult to promote.
But, on the strength of things so far, and knowing Bob’s thoughts on programming, he will certainly have done his homework, and if you care to Google Randall Scarlata – the American baritone who will be joining Bob in Schubert’s powerful and moving song-cycle ‘Winterreise’ on the night, I think Musica Viva is already well on course for a third sell-out, too.
Involve and engage
Professor Simon Payne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Plymouth, had the enviable task of introducing the evening, and it is really good to see how the University is seeking to involve the community – not only as the audience on the night, but in being invited to attend a free-open rehearsal earlier in the week.
Valuable and enjoyable experience
Furthermore it’s encouraging to see some of the University’s own music students there in the audience, and, in the case of one of my second-year piano-students, gaining some most valuable, and enjoyable experience as page-turner in rehearsal, and on the night – in fact, just one of the many things that Bob Taub has already brought to this new series, and which should ensure that it simply goes from strength to strength – which can only be to everyone’s advantage in the long term.
Meanwhile you can read my full review of the present concert here at Seen and Heard International
You can book for ‘Winterreise’ at www.plymouth.ac.uk/arts-institute
Philip R Buttall
top image: Dante Quartet with Robert Taub (right)
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