Stratford Herald, Peter Buckroyd
[..the Sacconi Quartet] were joined by Timothy Orpen for a lovely work premiered in 2014, Ian Venables’s Canzonetta for Clarinet and String Quartet Op 44. This beautifully shaped piece, characterised throughout by typically English falling phrases, featured Orpen’s gorgeous rich clarinet sound. Listening to this piece it was easy to understand why the Times described Orpen as a ‘blazing talent’.
His exquisite playing was also evident in the final piece in the programme, Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet in B major, Op 115. This was composed at the end of Brahms’s career when he had given up composition until he met Richard Muhlfeld, a violinist who had turned into a clarinet virtuoso, for whom he composed the work.
Orpen’s glorious playing of sweeping phrases was echoed at the beginning of the opening movement by the strings. All five instruments were beautifully balanced in this performance.
The quest for resolution of the opening movement’s musical clarinet themes came in a lovely passage of gentle stillness at the end.
In the third movement, Brahms shifts the nature of the quest so that strings and clarinet are on the same journey to resolution, and in the last the roles of the instruments in the first movement are reversed. Each finishes the other’s phrase in an interpretation which finely explored the nature of resolution itself .