Taking its name from the Scottish coastal village where it was formed last year, the Elie Ensemble opened the Hampstead Arts Festival with a concert worthy of a far more experienced group. This string sextet was coached, in an intensive week, on Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht by Krzysztof Chorzelski, viola player of the eminent Belcea Quartet, which can itself be heard on Monday.
With Chorzelski at the heart of the ensemble rather than as leader, galvanising these players, all highly talented in their own right, the result was one of the finest interpretations of Verklärte Nacht I have heard for many years. In such a performance of the original sextet version, as opposed to the more sumptuous chamber orchestra arrangements, one could appreciate the subtly differentiated textures, all enhancing the moonlit sexual drama and final transfiguration of the Dehmel poem on which it is based.
The Sextet from Strauss’s Capriccio, with which they started, had taken a little while to settle; only here, perhaps, was there any suggestion that this is not a regular ensemble. It has, however, been rehearsing intensively again for a series of concerts in and around London, as was evident in Brahms’s B flat Sextet, op. 18, which was delivered with delectable lyrical charm and superbly executed interaction of voices.
Without doubt, an ensemble to watch.
Festival continues to Nov 20; www.hampsteadartsfestival.com