The Fibonacci Sequence Ensemble delighted a full house at Keswick Theatre last Sunday, 19 April with a programme of music by Strauss, Mozart and Schubert. Named after the great medieval mathematician and the sequence of numbers he discovered which appears in many different forms throughout nature, the ensemble also appears in many different forms but specialises in repertoire for mixed string and wind ensembles of various numbers of players.
After an informal pre-concert talk by five members of the ensemble, their programme opened with Richard Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegel”, arranged (possibly by the composer himself, under a pseudonym) for violin, double bass, horn, bassoon and clarinet. Here the ‘merry pranks’ of Till were vividly brought to life by the ensemble, with each player adding a little of themselves to Till’s character. The humour of Strauss’s writing was given an almost cartoon quality in this intimate arrangement, played with enormous vigour and infectious enjoyment.
Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet was given a most sensitive performance, featuring Julian Farrell on Clarinet, whose breath control and dexterity were staggering. The string playing was wonderfully understated, with muted strings played senza vibrato sounding all the more daring in the theatre’s dry acoustic. Farrell’s animated playing was especially enjoyable in the playful second trio of the third movement, while the final movement gave us some breathtakingly plaintive string playing and stunningly virtuosic staccato arpeggios from clarinet and violin.
The second half of the concert was given over entirely to Schubert’s Octet in F major, which the ensemble has recently recorded. The six movements of this mammoth work last a whole hour, but it certainly did not feel like it. Jack Liebeck’s violin playing matched Farrell’s clarinet superbly, whether in delicate duets or in the extraordinarily difficult flashes of brilliance in the final movement. The Octet gave the opportunity for all the players to show their individual virtuosity, but at no time did any of them dominate to the detriment of the ensemble. Schubert’s masterpiece was lovingly presented to us in all its beauty, at times deeply moving, at times dazzling, and sometimes just fun!
The Fibonacci Sequence gave us chamber music at its best, and it was a privilege to be drawn in to their performance as they shared their obvious enjoyment and love of the music with an appreciative audience.