MEMBERS of the Royal Northern Sinfonia have been regular guests of Kendal Midday Concert Club over a period of many years and their concerts are always eagerly awaited as a high standard of performance can be guaranteed, writes CLIVE WALKLEY. The links with the orchestra have drawn even closer recently as the orchestra’s leader, Bradley Creswick, agreed to become the club’s president.

Bradley and four other players from the orchestra gave the club’s first concert of 2019 when they formed an ensemble to play string quintets by Mendelssohn and Dvorak. A packed hall greeted the players as they opened the concert with Mendelssohn’s youthful String Quintet No 1 written, with the exception of the second movement added later, when the composer was only 17 years old. This is an astonishing work for one so young: a fully-worked our development section in the long first movement is full of interest and shows the young composer’s command of sonata form. The movement is carefully constructed with thematic material shared equally between the five instruments with the composer revelling in the rich textures that could be obtained with two violas as part of the ensemble. There were so many lovely moments for us to enjoy in the first movement alone – the playing of the athletic cello part and the tender closing bars to mention just two. Then came the slow movement with its demand for sustained cantabile playing, so beautifully played. But one of the biggest challenges for players of this work is the fairy-like delicacy required in the scherzo. This has to be played with the utmost lightness and technical control, and it was.

Dvorak’s joyous 3rd String Quintet followed the Mendelssohn. The work was written while the composer was on holiday in America and breathes something of the warmth of his native Bohemia as well as being influenced by his American sojourn. It is full of melodic charm and rhythmic vitality and both these qualities were fully exploited by the quintet. Like Mendelssohn, Dvorak clearly enjoyed having an additional viola to add richness to his textures and he takes advantage of this, notably at the beginning of the first and second movements. Again, there were many lovely moments to admire: the precision of the ensemble, beauty of tone and rhythmic drive amongst others.

And so the concert concluded: two fine works in the chamber music repertoire so expertly performed by five superb players. How fortunate we are to have players of such excellence so near to hand.