THE Magnard Ensemble presented an interesting and varied programme of chamber music to members of Kendal’s Midday Concert Club, writes CLIVE WALKLEY. A wind quintet - flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon - is at the core of this ensemble of young professional players, formed in 2012.

There is much 18th Century chamber music available for wind quintets but for this concert the ensemble chose a programme of almost entirely 20th Century works, most of which were probably unfamiliar to the audience. But how refreshing it was to hear music so cleverly written but so appealing on first hearing!

The title of the opening work, Sechs Bagatellen by Ligeti, may have sounded foreboding but the six short bagatelles set the tone for the whole concert. Generally light-hearted and highly rhythmic, they were performed with panache with the audience clearly enjoying the many touches of humour they contained.

After the Ligeti came an arrangement by the group’s clarinettist, Joseph Shiner, of Bach’s five-part Prelude and Fugue from the first book of the composer’s Well Tempered Clavier. This worked well: the different colours of the five instruments brought out the individuality of the contrapuntal lines effectively and the theme of the fugue was never under - or overstated as the rich texture unfolded.

The opening Allegro scherzando from Jacques Ibert’s Trois Pièces brèves reintroduced humour back into the programme. Ibert wrote so well for wind instruments and the ensemble again clearly enjoyed playing this rumbustious music. The slow duet in the second movement was beautifully played by flautist, Suzannah Clements, and Joseph Shiner.

A much more serious piece came next, Ewan Campbell’s Misinformation Machine, which reflects the group’s interest in contemporary music. They commissioned the work and premiered it last year. However, it was hard to find any sense of thematic development in this heavily discordant music on one hearing.

Finally, on the scheduled programme, came Paul Patterson’s witty, colourful and imaginative Westerly Winds, a sequence of short fantasies based on West Country folk tunes. There was no difficulty in recognising the tunes as they appeared in different colours and rhythmic transformations.

Such was the nature of applause that the players were recalled for an encore. We were not told what this was to be but after a few bars it became obvious that it was George Gershwin’s I’ve Got Rhythm.

This was a delightful concert performed by a hugely talented group whose infectious enthusiasm for music came across in every item in this well-planned programme.