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'Eloquent performances of some captivating rarities … absolutely not to be missed.’
Gramophone

'Performances are exceptionally fine ... and the recording creates a pleasantly intimate atmosphere for the listener to discover these little-known gems.'
Good CD Guide

'Divertimenti give a brilliant, highly committed performance.'
Gramophone

'Exquisite chamber music... warm and expressive performances.'
BBC Record Review

'The playing by Divertimenti is superb. They bring much warmth and colour to this excellent disc and give an excellent account of two very beautiful pieces of British music.'
MusicWeb International

‘Great feeling and beauty of tone.’ 
BBC Music Magazine

‘The playing of the Divertimenti Ensemble on this Dutton CD is superlative throughout.’
Bax Quintet review - MusicWeb International

'Divertimenti performed the varied programme with outstanding colour,
verve and daring. The rich sonority of their playing equated at times to
that of a small string orchestra but with the added lucid clarity created
by only eight superb players.
'
Music at Leamington Hastings


Divertimenti - Tonbridge Music Club - 8 May 2004

Delicate - and not so delicate - Dancing

If this seems a fanciful title for some comments on a concert, then consider a] what was the programme? And b] how it was performed. This comment piece is likely, for the most part, to be read at a distance of some five months, and should serve as a reminder of a marvellous evening's entertainment.

The concert was given by Divertimenti, a virtuoso string group led by violinist Paul Barritt, and including within its personnel such leading London professionals as cellist Sebastian Comberti, principal cello with both the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the London Mozart Players; Louise Williams, viola player with both the Endellion and Chilingirian Quartets and collaborator with the Lindsays, Coull, Sorrel and Takács Quartets; Jonathan Barritt, sometime leader of the viola sections in the Philharmonia, London Symphony and BBC Symphony Orchestras.
The concert opened with that exercise in joyous and refined rapture, the Prelude to Richard Strauss's last opera, Capriccio. Acting as Prelude, not only to the opera, but also to this concert, Divertimenti admirably portrayed its cultured sensibilities, from Paul Barritt's violin quietly creeping in at the outset, through the more intense moments to its elegant conclusion. This was clearly going to be a performance to be reckoned with.

Next, Dvorak's String Sextet Op 48 was full of the open-air feel of rustic simplicity, and not-so-delicate country dancing. Divertimenti managed to tread to perfection the fine line between bucolic over-emphasis and a too refined understatement in this music so full of Dvorak's nationalistic fervour. The varied moods of the Dumka slow movement were drawn with admirable clarity, followed by a splendidly vigorous Furiant.

After the interval came a palate-cleansing sorbet in the form of four short pieces for four violins by the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. In contrast to the creamy richness of R Strauss and the Brahmsian textures of the Dvorak Sextet, these four short pieces, derived from folk melodies, provided a slightly acerbic harmonic flavour, yet full of humour. As leader Paul Barritt said when introducing them, it is not often that there are four violins available, so why not seize the opportunity to give them an airing. We were glad they did.

And so to the evening's centrepiece finale, the great Mendelssohn Octet. If ever there was a work that provided proof of the benefits of attending live music making, this is it. The piece is marvellous under any circumstances, but no amount of radio or recorded listening can ever take the place of seeing and hearing eight musicians working together, interacting and, in this work, clearly playing eight separate parts. One could see - and hear - two cellos, manifestly playing different parts 'against' each other. The sixteen-year-old Mendelssohn invented a new musical genre here, and his injunction that all parts should be played in symphonic style was perfectly executed by Divertimenti's members.

And the delicate dancing? Well, was there ever a more delicate gossamer dance than the Octet's Scherzo? The words from Goethe's Faust - which provided the inspiration for the movement, can not be bettered in describing it; 'Flite of clouds and trail of mist are lighted from above; A breeze in the leaves, a wind in the reeds, and all is blown away.'
And so to Sebastian Comberti's breakneck charge into the perpetuum mobile finale and the palpable and exultant energy of the eight musicians, the brief recollection of the scherzo until, at the end, all was indeed blown away. What a way to conclude a season! Thank you Divertimenti, for a wonderful evening.

David Inman


Kendal Midday Concerts

After the Kendal Midday Concerts’ last recital, one awestruck member of the audience enthusiastically commented, ‘What a concert, what a season! This was one of the very best.’ How right he was.

There is a variety of features that attract lovers of chamber music to its fortnightly meetings: the interesting and unusual programme content: the remarkably high quality of musicianship on display in all performances, and the fact that most artists make it clear that it is a enjoyable experience for them to play to the club’s discerning audiences.

For the visit of Divertimenti Ensemble each of these features was present. Frank Martin’s Pavane Couleur du Temps would have been unfamiliar to the majority of people, and a string quintet version of Brahms’s famous Piano Quintet Op 34 would equally have been unknown. Full marks then to the players for introducing these works.

Quality of performance? Yes , it was extremely laudable in both pieces.

Rich sonorous tone at tall dynamic levels. A luscious blend (2 cellos do make the most delectable sound), a crispness of attack and rhythm – especially conspicuous during the dynamic Brahmsian moments – careful treatment of textural balance, shapely spacious phrasing and fastidious attention to stylistic matters and to the myriad of other details so essential to the emergence of a performance.

Paul Barritt, the ensemble’s leader, was always at hand to make verbal contact with the audience. This he accomplished with dexterity and with humour. He, it was who announce the encore, a ‘lollipop’, a sparkling foil to the Brahms, a movement from a Boccherini quintet. It was simply marvellous!
Westmoreland Gazette

 

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