The Nash Ensemble will take concertgoers on a unique journey through the music of France and Spain during its 2009/2010 season. The Nash programmes reflect the connections between the musical traditions of two countries in eleven concerts presented throughout the season. The series takes its name from Duparc’s song L’invitation au voyage – and offers a journey to a land of “order and beauty, luxury, calm and delight”.
French composers such as Chabrier, Debussy and Ravel wrote some of the finest “Spanish” music; the Spaniards - Granados, Falla and Turina all spent formative years in Paris. Works by these major figures are augmented by masterpieces ranging from Berlioz and Saint-Saëns to Fauré and Poulenc.
The award-winning Nash Ensemble is joined by Dame Felicity Lott in performances of Duparc L’Invitation au voyage & Phidylé and Berlioz Les Nuits d’été on 24 October 2009, and by Sally Mathews in Canteloube Chants d’Auvergne on 14 November, in which the programme will include Ravel’s masterful String Quartet and his seminal Introduction and Allegro, with harp soloist Lucy Wakeford. Mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill joins the Ensemble on 5 December to perform works by Falla, Fauré, Ravel, Debussy and Franck. The series continues on 16 January with Saint-Saëns Le carnaval des animaux and Ravel Ma Mère l’oye, with pianists Ian Brown and Simon Crawford Phillips, and Turina Scèna andalouse Op 7, with Lawrence Power as viola soloist.
On 20 February 2010 baritone Christopher Maltman sings songs by Ravel and Chabrier, and the Nash performs two masterworks; Ravel Piano Trio and Faure sublime Piano Quartet in C minor Op 15. The renowned flamenco guitarist Paco Pena will perform flamenco compositions and joins the Nash for an evening celebrating the music of Manuel de Falla on 6 March. Finally Eleanor Bron will be the reciter in a performance of Poulenc Babar the Elephant (arranged by David Matthews for reciter and ensemble) at a Wigmore coffee morning on 7 March 2010.
Continuing the traditions of presenting early evening events free to the public, there will be early evening recitals on 14 November and 20 February 2010, featuring the members of the Nash in duos and solos.
The Nash Ensemble season will open with the Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 75th Birthday Concert on 13 October in a programme especially devised by the composer, including the world premiere of his String Sextet commissioned by the Nash, Seven in Nomine, and Kettletoft Inn for Northumbrian pipes (Kathryn Tickell) and ensemble; the programme will also include works by Purcell, Schubert and Debussy. “This great jewel in the crown of British music…Long live the Nash” Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
On Sunday 25 October in a Wigmore Coffee Concert, the Nash will present a Mendelssohn Anniversary Concert, which will include his miraculous String Octet and the profound String Quartet in A minor Op 13.
On 24 March 2010 the Ensemble will celebrate Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s 75th birthday with a concert which will include five of his works spanning nearly 40 years, including a world premiere, and a performance of the Woman and the Hare - both Nash commissions. The programme also includes the UK premiere of Elliott Carter’s Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano (Claire Booth) and clarinet (Richard Hosford), which will add lustre to this significant occasion.
Sir Harrison Birtwistle has said: ‘For imaginative programming and captivating performances, the Nash Ensemble has no rival. I very much value my long association with them’ and The Times has stated: ‘The Nash Ensemble is still the best champion that any composer could hope to have’.
The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation worldwide as one of Britain’s finest and most adventurous chamber groups. Its repertoire is vast and the imaginative, innovative and unusual programmes created by its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman range from Haydn to leading contemporary composers. By the end of 2009 the Nash Ensemble will have performed over 255 new works of which 148 have been especially commissioned.