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BRAHMS and IZZY GIZMO Ensemble 360 ​​DONCASTER CAST April 16, 2022

Clarinetist Robert Plane is the latest player to pour his superb musical expertise into the magical togetherness of the music in the virtuosic line-up of Ensemble 360 ​​chamber musicians in the round, and he was quite busy on his debut day at Doncaster. After a morning spent inciting all sorts of musical fun with his colleagues Izzy Gizmothe latest family concert composed for Ensemble 360, he spent the evening conjuring up romantic Easter treats for the elders.

One of the greatest joys of Ensemble 360 ​​concerts is the opportunity to hear lesser-known works performed with passion and mastery, often proving so magnificent that it is a mystery why they are even lesser-known. Tonight Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 2 in A followed by Walter Rabl’s Super Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, possibly the first piece written for this beautiful combination, while the finale was saved for Alexander von Zemlinsky’s delicious and exciting Trio for clarinet, cello and piano. Brahms, 50 years her senior, was passionate about the young men’s writing, so impressed was he by their exciting music. And weren’t we all! Yes, the vocals, soothing melody and superb interplay of virtuosity and lyricism of pianist Tim Horton and violinist Ben Nabarro in the Brahms Sonata were fabulous, but the dynamics of Rabl and Zemlinsky managed to eclipse Brahms and Bringing exciting twists in mood and texture on their journey from solemn lows to soaring highs, from drone to song, from turbulent and lively to sluggish, from passionate frenzy to grand and lyrical. Close musical conversations throughout created enchanting music, laced with delightful fugue progressions, harmonious togetherness and a particularly delicious pairing of Robert’s clarinet with Gemma Rosefield’s cello. Exciting stuff!

Also new to this venue was Izzy Gizmo, the latest interactive, story-based musical composition in Ensemble 360’s growing repertoire of hugely popular family concerts, each commissioned and composed specifically for the high-flying musicians and introduced to hundreds of school children in pre-concert workshops. They have proven so excellent and successful over the years that they have been performed by orchestras and ensembles around the world – and Down Under too. Based on the best-selling book by Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie, Izzy’s lively original score is, as always, by Music in the Round Composer-in-Residence Paul Rissman. Although Izzy Gizmo’s adventure is less grand and extravagant than that of its predecessors like Stan and Mabel or Sir Scallywag and there are fewer characters in the mix, there’s fun and involvement once the captivating storyteller, the sunny, fun Polly Ives, takes the stage with her glittery shoes and her personality. Adjust output to age group and school workshop expe
Inspired by a specific audience, she provides the expert guidance with fervent passion and praise as children and adults engage in voice and body plays, learn about players and instruments, play through the story’s catchy choruses, and generally have a good laugh before joining in the songs and actions while fully telling the musical story.

With wild hair, rubber boots and round owl-rimmed glasses, Izzy is a quirky, passionate inventor in the Heath Robinson style, but alas, when things don’t go right right away, Izzy gets into a real old con and gives up immediately. So it’s up to the wise old grandfather to teach her and all of us the common sense of “try, try, try again.” The book’s illustrations are projected large as the music plays and the story unfolds, and this time movement has also been digitally added. This might be a bit unnecessary or a bit distracting at times, but perfect for when Izzy is marching along with her tool bag, or when poor crow is looping and tumbling through the air when her new wings fail.

The musical magic of every player and the magic of every instrument in Izzy’s story surely cannot fail to impress, and the breathtaking finale of Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals could perhaps spark a long-lasting love of music and music-making in young and old alike.

Eileen Caiger Gray

Details of Ensemble 360 ​​concerts and resource/activity packs for children, recordings, etc. are below this link.



BRAHMS and IZZY GIZMO Ensemble 360 ​​DONCASTER CAST April 16, 2022

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