Quintets for piano

The Schubert Ensemble returns to Lewes on Friday, February 24 to play piano quintets by Shostakovich and Elgar and a modern work, Nightsong by Anthony Powers.

Concert spokesman Michael Marwood said: “In 1998, the Royal Philharmonic Society presented them with the Best Chamber Ensemble Award for which they were shortlisted again in 2010.

“This concert opens with Shostakovich Piano Quintet, Opus 57, which was completed in September 1940 and first performed at the Moscow Conservatory in November 1940 with the composer at the piano. Many commentators agreed that the quintet was among Shostakovich’s finest creations. The Literaturnaya Gazeta described the work in glowing terms as a portrait of our age... the rich-toned, perfect voice of the present. Virtuoso scoring and a particularly testing and soloistic piano part continue to make the piano quintet Shostakovich’s most frequently-played chamber work.

“The next work Nightsongs was commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble and written by Anthony Powers in 2006. He was inspired to write it by the charms of the Gardens of Ninfa, south-east of Rome. It is 11 minutes long, and is preceded by a very short piece, one of Monteverdi’s best-known madrigals, Amor: Lamento della Ninfa which Powers used as its source material.

“The concert ends with a performance of Elgar’s longest chamber work his Piano Quintet in A minor which was written in 1918 after Elgar and his family had moved to Brinkwells, a country cottage in Fittleworth, West Sussex. It may have been the newly-found happiness that the composer felt in Brinkwells; it seemed as though the sixty-one year old composer had found and reinvented himself in the serenity of his new surroundings.”

The concert takes place at the Sussex Downs College in Lewes starting at 7.45 pm. Details at www.nyslewes.org.uk. Single tickets cost £14 from www.localboxoffice.com, at the door or in person from Lewes Travel.