We were at Highnam yesterday on a sunny evening for the opening of this year's Carducci Festival, a glorious event! The young and engaging Carducci String Quartet have been putting on an intensive weekend of music-making there each year since 2007, and people respond. No wonder! The setting is perfect - a much-loved Victorian Gothic church amidst parkland; the quartet's programmes are imaginative, and the playing both rich and delicate - absolutely no gothic horrors.
An interesting contrast was the recital we attended on Wednesday night, as part of the Newbury Spring Festival. St Mary's Church, Kingsclere predates Gambier Parry's Highnam by 700 years, and for a performance the Norman setting feels more secretive than exuberant. The virtuosic intensity of the Trio con Brio Copenhagen's playing contributed to this atmosphere, especially in the tragic music of Smetana's G minor Piano Trio.