ONE of the features of Lake District Summer Music that sets it apart from some other arts festivals is the diversity and sheer number of events open to the public, writes CLIVE WALKLEY. This year, the festival opened with an orchestral concert, and then followed a daily series of events which included: opera film screenings at Fellinis Cinema, a silent film screening with improvised organ accompaniment, baroque chamber music, Ghanaian dance and drumming, a wind ensemble, a piano recital and strings chamber concerts. However, it is not only the diversity of events that adds distinction to LDSM but the quality of what is on offer. By way of example, anyone whom attended the song recital by Ailish Tynan (Sunday, July 29) could not fail to appreciate the beauty of her voice, in partnership with her pianist Simon Lepper; or – to take another example – the fine recital offered by the Eblana String Trio in partnership with pianist Patrick Hemmerlé (Monday, July 30); both concerts outstanding. Such is the feast of music that local residents and summer visitors to the Lakes can enjoy annually.

A concert by the distinguished Chilingirian String Quartet at Ambleside Parish Church brought the first week of the festival to a close when the ensemble presented an all-Beethoven programme, carefully constructed around the composer’s three creative periods. We heard an early quartet, No 6 from the opus 18 collection, a middle period work, the second of the quartets dedicated to Count Razumovsky, written around 1804/5, and the composer’s last string quartet, Op 135, written in 1826, thus, enabling us to hear the development in Beethoven’s creative thought and his mastery as a string quartet composer over a long period.

As might be expected of such a distinguished ensemble with a worldwide reputation, the quartet gave authoritative performances of all three works and there were many ‘magic moments’. There are many what might be termed ‘musical eccentricities’ in all three works and it is always interesting to hear how different groups respond to Beethoven’s dramatic and sudden changes in mood, tempo, harmony, rhythm, texture, and particularly his extreme dynamic markings. The quartet exploited these to the full with their breathtaking pianissimos, for example; the drama of their sforzandos; wonderful changes of colour at key moments, and the sheer energy of their playing. How good to hear these three wonderful works in a single programme and played in such a masterly way!

Lake District Summer Music 2018 runs until Friday, August 10.

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