Review: York Early Music Festival, Boxwood & Brass, Decline And Fall, National Centre for Early Music, York, July 13

THIS concert by Boxwood & Brass and a very fine Andrew Durban on double bass was certainly interesting.

I loved the sheer variety of instrumental colour, of texture, which was evident throughout the programme. The extracts from Beethoven’s Egmont were a joy.

Originally arranged by Friedrich Starke and re-mastered by bassoonist Robert Percival, the music sounded full of energy and vitality. thanks to the razor-sharp performance of this excellent ensemble.

The extracts from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito were also refreshing. The duet, aria and finale brimmed with character realisation; this was particularly true of the recitative enhanced last section.

But what on earth were this superb ensemble thinking by including this musically castrated arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No 7? I understand the reasons for the arrangement: practicality, accessibility, a musical democracy which Beethoven himself might have approved. But not this. Anyhow, the playing was superb, particularly in the Scherzo which fizzed with crisp, beautiful articulation and, after a musically vandalised Allegro Con Brio finale, I arrived home in plenty of time for tea!

Steve Crowther