Review: The Fibonacci Sequence, Buxton International Festival

The Fibonacci Sequence is a flexible group of leading musicians formed in 1984 by pianist Kathron Sturrock. The Fibonaccis performed three hour-long concerts in St John’s Church which provides a fine acoustic and an airy space on a sultry day.

For the first concert Paul Archibald (trumpet and flugelhorn), Andrew Marriner (clarinet), and Kathron were joined by young soprano Charlotte Trepess who is a member of the Festival chorus. Charlotte began by singing Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock accompanied by piano and clarinet. Written at the end of Schubert’s short life there was a restrained poignancy in the performance and familiarity with the song did not matter – in these hands it was as fresh and as moving as ever. The capacity audience clearly agreed.

The music of Brahms featured in all three concerts the Fibonaccis gave. In this it was the E flat Sonata for clarinet and piano (Op 120). At one level music of such simplicity but full of grace and refined melody, this was one of Brahms’ last chamber works and is a perfect reminder of what can be achieved with such small forces.

The rest of the programme was given over to Bach. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (for flugelhorn and piano) was a delightful aperitif for the cantata Praise God in all Lands, BWV 51. Bach’s score includes two violins but reducing the performance to soprano, trumpet and piano was no loss. If anything the focus on the voice and horn made appreciation of the virtuoso and demanding writing and performance greater.

The cantata combines some reflective moments of thanksgiving along with headlong jubilation. If the other two concerts matched the first then the Fibonacci Sequence will have brought much music that was both pleasurable and moving to the Buxton International Festival.

Keith Savage