Eerlijk duurt het langts  6th August 2017

Last night’s finale of the Festival provided a worthy climax by presenting two superb octets – the lesser known Schubert Octet in F major and, another world première for the Festival, Sebastian Fagerlund’s Autumn Equinox.

Fagerlund’s piece was clearly written as a companion to the Schubert using, as it does, the same unusual line-up of instruments – a string quartet plus double bass, horn, bassoon and clarinet. This grouping virtually ensures that the two pieces form a complete concert programme and will often be played together – canny lot, these composers. Unusual though the blend is, the instruments provide a luscious mixture of rich harmonies with the horn creating an almost Wagnerian feel at times, especially in parts of the Schubert.

However, both compositions rely most heavily, and not by coincidence, on the clarinet. The Schubert was commissioned in 1824 by the Austrian philanthropist and clarinet amateur, Count Ferdinand Troyer while Sebastian Fagerlund’s co-founder and joint Artistic Director of the RUSK Chamber Music Festival in Finland is clarinettist Christoffer Sundqvist.

Finnish Fagerlund is currently Composer in Residence of The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam but his inspiration is undoubtedly Nordic, conjuring up, as Autumn Equinox did, vast skies and lonely landscapes.

The Schubert is a long piece consisting of six movements. At times moving, at others frenetic, it ranged from the sublime, very Jane Austeny Menuetto – Allegretto,Trio, Menuetto, Coda to, as I said before, the almost Wagnerian majesty in the final section.

In both octets the musicians, under the leadership of Liza Ferschtman, excelled with special mention having to go to the virtuoso playing of Christoffer Sundqvist on clarinet whom, I imagine, the composer had in mind when the piece was written.

This year’s sell-out Delft Chamber Music Festival has been a resounding success, presenting, as it has, a blend of the traditional, though often lesser known, classical repertoire along with contemporary compositions which sometimes tested the audiences to extreme. The Festival’s success can be attributed almost exclusively to the amazing Liza Ferschtman who not only brought and held the whole thing together but also played in the majority of concerts. Congratulations to her and everyone else involved in what was a truly praiseworthy and outstanding event. Roll on 2018.

This and several other concerts were broadcast live on NPO Radio 4, all of which will still be available on the station’s online playback facility.    Michael Hasted  7th August 2017

Click here for reviews of concerts earlier in the Festival

Main photo by Ronald Knapp