Concert review by Christopher Daly

The Hyde String Quartet and the Berkeley Ensemble

Saturday 13th December 2008

Church of St. Gabriel's


This well-chosen programme, presented by the Oriana Ensemble, was given by two fine young chamber groups, both of which are recently formed. It consisted of the Mendelssohn String Quartet Op. 44 No. 3, Berkeley String Trio Op. 19, Ferguson Octet Op. 4 and Mendelssohn Octet Op. 20.

The full Berkeley Ensemble normally consists of string quartet with the addition of double bass, clarinet, horn and basoon. Their chosen name has received the blessing of our patrons Lady and Michael Berkeley.

Rebecca Mathews (violin), Dan Shillady (viola) and Gemma Wareham (cello) from the Ensemble gave a good account of the Trio Op. 19 this evening. The second movement (Adagio) found expressiveness with a certain poise, and in the third (Allegro), forward movement was well-informed by careful rhythm and accent.

Ferguson's Octet Op. 4 of 1933 involved the whole ensemble. This is a glorious work which should be better known. The Berkeley Ensemble have performed it several times already and gave a completely assured and convincing performance.

The Mendelssohn Quartet Op. 44 No. 3 was played by the Hyde Quartet. It is a fine piece in which the players' tone, texture and dynamic range found clear response in the acoustics of St. Gabriel's.

The two quartet elements came together for Mendelssohn's astonishing masterpiece, the Octet Op. 20. Performers and audience alike enjoyed an exhilarating and confident reading of a wonderful work.

Members of the Berkeley Ensemble told me that they intend to add the Berkeley Diversions Op. 63 to their repetoire. We look forward to hearing them perform it soon.

The Berkeley Ensemble
The Berkeley Ensemble