Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble exceeds high expectations

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble exceeds high expectations

The Plain Dealer, Zachary Lewis

“The Academy of St. Martin the Fields lived up to every definition of its name here Tuesday.

Like any good group or institution of higher learning, the ensemble drawn from the legendary London-based orchestra showed a Plymouth Church full of Cleveland Chamber Music Society patrons exactly how it’s done.

Major works by Dvorak and Schubert received stellar, wholly exemplary readings any listener or chamber music student would have been wise to note. For a kickoff to its 66th year, the series truly could not have chosen better.”

[…]

“Schubert’s F-Major Octet proved an even richer treat. Rounded out by clarinet, bassoon and horn, the St. Martin Ensemble delivered a performance as remarkable as the work itself is rarely heard. As in the Dvorak, the strings were a many-splendored delight in the Schubert. Here, though, they also executed a feat of endurance, sustaining technical sharpness and interpretive acuity in a work spanning a full hour. But the winds pushed things into the realm of the sublime. Clarinetist Timothy Orpen, bassoonist Lawrence O’Donnell and horn player Stephen Stirling matched their string colleagues flawlessly, supplying virtuosity and melodic expression in spades and an entire book’s worth of spells. Together, the group displayed masterful levels of freedom and sophistication.”Schubert may have been famous for improvising, but the joy Tuesday was witnessing the result of long, deeply considered collaboration. All who were present surely would like to thank the Academy.”