Two contrasting but equally memorable concerts on consecutive nights! What luck! On Sunday, we went to our Pittville Pump Room for what had been billed as the final concert in the Cheltenham Music Society 's season. The Takacs Quartet seem like old friends, but we always feel enormously privileged to have them back: they played the first and last of Brahms' quartets, which they are recording this week: see the YouTube video I have posted for an earlier recording of part of the first. But I would find it hard to listen to an all-Brahms recital, and the jewel of the evening for me was the Takacs playing Haydn's op. 74 no. 3, The Rider. The final movement in particular was sublime.
Then, this evening we were at Chipping Campden (at the kind invitation of our good friends Eric and Carmen Reynal) to hear The Sixteen in pieces by Monteverdi and Hans Werner Henze, mixed with poetry - recited by their conductor (and founder) Harry Christophers and his wife. The magical setting of Campden church and the entirely white middle class audience contrasted starkly with the pain of Edward Bond's text for Henze's Orpheus Behind the Wire and the poems of Denise Levertov. This was an extrardinarily cohesive and compelling programme, performed by a phenomenal group.