Chamber music back in Peasmarsh

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Concert-goers arriving at Peasmarsh Church

Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival 2015 – where to begin? When I confessed to Anna Rowe, General Manager of the Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival 2015 that every concert of the Festival from last Thursday to last Sunday had been so exceptional that I didn’t know where to start my Rye News article, she suggested I start with that, so I have.

The musicians from more than half-a-dozen countries as well as Britain, thrilled their listeners throughout and not everything or everyone can be mentioned. Most concerts are in the perfect setting of St Peter and St Paul, Peasmarsh, but traditionally Friday evening takes place in St Mary’s, Rye and this year featured Joint Festival Directors Richard Lester (‘cello) and Anthony Marwood (violin), equally eloquent in Schumann and Dvorak respectively, and concluding with the London Mozart Players led by Jaime Martin in a Beethoven Fourth Symphony of rare vividness.

Earlier that day the very youthful Trio Isimsiz and the brilliantly indefatigable Sam Glazer had, using the theme of Night, coaxed the most remarkable and entertaining songs from the pupils of the Beckley and Peasmarsh primary schools.

Most memorable of all for me on the three-concert centre-piece Saturday, were Beethoven’s powerful and mysterious Opus 126 Bagatelles played by Serbian pianist Aleksandar Madzar followed in the early evening by a gut-wrenchingly emotional account of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio by Messrs Marwood, Madzar and Swedish ‘cellist Jakob Koranyi. Saturday concluded with Late Night Contemplation: a deeply moving performance of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ Our Saviour on the Cross interspersed with poems by Mark Strand, read beautifully by actor Walter van Dyk.

Sunday brought a splendid morning concert by the Trio Isimsiz of piano trios, one by Beethoven and another by the astonishing twelve-year-old Erich Korngold. Evening gave us a fascinating illustrated conversation between Richard Lester and Huw Watkins, whose pianism as well as whose music was a feature of this year’s entire event. All too soon, the Finale arrived with Kodaly, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and, to end everything, a scintillating and exhilarating Dvorak String Quintet Opus 97.

The Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival has become the premier summer musical event of its kind in the Rye area and seems to maintain and even improve its remarkably high standards each year. We look forward to the next: June 23-26 2016

Photo: Kenneth Bird