The all-Schubert programme for Sunday's Coffee Concert in the Holywell Music Room could have been chosen with the weather in mind. There was some hot sunshine - rare in this cloudy summer - that was barely dimmed indoors, given the white walls and characteristically large Georgian windows of the austerely elegant hall - but what are those awful IKEA-type lampshades? - and the famous theme of The Trout Quintet follows a rainbow trout slipping and plunging down the course of a sparkling brook in Upper Austria on a July day in 1819. Not until well into the 2nd movement 'Andante' does the music turn to a minor key during a solemn tune for viola and cello.
The concert began with pianist Viv McLean tackling the brief Impromptu in G flat, with its sense of yearning all along the melodic line. Interesting that here his technique consisted more in producing a swell of sound, with the left hand occasionally overshadowing the right hand, rather than the clean picking out of the individual notes that he gave us in The Trout.
In The Trout, as when I've seen him on other occasions, Mr McLean leaned forward over the keyboard like a cat about to pounce on an errant church mouse, giving an impression of intense concentration but not of being in a brown study; more than most chamber pianists he constantly glances at the rest of the ensemble, thus both leading and following as required by the score. Combined with the circumstance of his very frequent collaboration with the Adderbury players, this creates an ease and coherence that's so pleasing to both ear and eye. I mention the latter since these Adderburys always convey great pleasure in their music. The double bassist, Andrew 'Jub' Davis, passes up a high stool in favour of standing tall by his instrument. He told me afterwards he likes to have perfectly free play of his arms and body while bowing. During the eponymous theme in the 4th movement, Mr Davis and his instrument swayed rhythmically with the beat in a manner all but impossible if were he seated, delicately bowing and then plucking, giving a most harmonious visual and aural impression.
It seemed fitting that the average age of this Coffee Concert audience was a good few years younger than very often. It's a shame that my being faced across the aisle by a whole row of American students should be an unusual occurrence at such events. With music and playing of this quality, it would be great to see more students on Sunday mornings in Holywell St.