Classical review: Athenaeum Winds, Glasgow

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Among the many aspirational aspects of the Cottier’s Chamber Project is the performance opportunities it gives to young, inexperienced ensembles such as the Athenaeum Winds, a group privileged to be supported by Enterprise Music Scotland’s residency project.

Athenaeum Winds - Cottier’s Theatre, Glasgow

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Last night’s concert by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student quintet gave exposure to an ensemble that is clearly in its professional infancy, but has the passion to succeed.

Their programme was a satisfying combination of Ligeti, Ravel and the ever-tuneful Jim Parker, whose Mississippi Five was enough to remind us that, among Parker’s many TV signature turn credits, is the lightweight jazziness of The House of Eliott. It’s a fun piece, with virtuoso elements, such as the menagerie of animal noises that characterise the final movement, by which time the ensemble had found the poise and confidence missing from some of the earliest movements.

The concert opened with Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet, and a performance that didn’t always display absolute belief in the music. For despite some cracking moments – especially those piercing, electrically-charged echoes of Stravinsky – the momentum occasionally died, leaving chords or single gestures colourless and without context.

There was no lack of colour in Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, particularly in the beautiful Forlane, which had a ravishing sense of fluidity and genuinely French singing style. Only at the very start was there an inkling of nerviness.

But this was a charming presentation, providing a talented group of young musicians with exactly the chance they need to gain the right experience.