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Endymion, Chamber Music Ensemble

Biography

“The brilliant Endymion” (Sunday Times) exists to deliver world-class performances of chamber music throughout London, the UK and abroad. It nurtures the UK’s most dynamic and original composers, inspires younger and new audiences and champions mixed chamber music of all genres through performance, commissioning, recording and promotion.

Since Endymion was formed in 1979 from a group of outstanding National Youth Orchestra students, it has built a secure reputation across a broad and often adventurous repertoire and won a strong following among audiences throughout the UK and abroad, touring in Ireland, Italy, Spain, Finland and Mexico. Unusually for chamber groups so well established, Endymion retains most of its original players. These performers now number among the best soloists and chamber musicians in Europe, including Mark van de Wiel, Stephen Stirling, Melinda Maxwell, Michael Dussek and Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE. Performing together for over thirty years, Endymion has been called one of the few chamber groups as much at home with Mozart as with Birtwistle.

Endymion has made a speciality of 20th century music theatre and chamber opera, including collaborations with the Royal Opera House’s Garden Venture, Women’s Playhouse Trust and Opera Factory, with which it undertook a European tour of Dido and Aeneas and Curlew River in 1995.

Endymion has appeared at most of the major British festivals, giving its tenth Proms performance in 2014, and was in residence at Blackheath Concert Halls for several years.

A retrospective of Anthony Gilbert’s music featured a dozen especially composed musical tributes by distinguished contemporaries, including Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr, Colin Matthews and Anthony Payne. Endymion’s collaborations with the BBC Singers have included world premieres of Giles Swayne’s Havoc (Proms, 1999) and Edward Cowie’s Gaia (2003), as well as the UK première of Birtwistle’s Ring Dance of the Nazarene at the 2004 Proms (“startling virtuosity from all concerned” – Daily Telegraph).

A particularly successful and much imitated innovation is the wide-ranging series of Composer Choice concerts staged by Endymion at the Southbank, which has included Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Oliver Knussen, Gavin Bryars, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Judith Weir, John Woolrich and Michael Berkeley.

Endymion celebrated both its 30th and 35th birthdays at Kings Place. In 2009, the group performed commissions by 20 British composers, and the celebrations in 2014 took the form of a weekend of concerts focused on Brahms, and a programme of music for flute, viola and harp. The 30th birthday commissions were recorded for NMC and joined a host of other discs by Endymion including works by Lutyens, Stravinsky, Britten and Magnus Lindberg and (with the Dutton label) York Bowen, Edmund Rubbra, Thomas Dunhill, Lennox Berkeley, Erno Dohnanyi and Zdenek Fibich.

Planning has already begun for the group's 40th anniversary in 2019!
http://www.endymion.org.uk

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Discography

Sounds Census: 30th Birthday Celebration

Elisabeth Lutyens: Chamber and Choral Music

Thomas Dunhill: Chamber Music

Edwin York Bowen: Wind Sonatas

Edwin York Bowen: Sonatas

Edwin York Bowen: Music for horns and strings

Edmund Rubbra: Piano trios & oboe music

Lennox Berkeley: Chamber music for winds and strings

Benjamin Britten

New Finnish Music

Dohnanyi & Fibich

Igor Stravinsky: Symphonies of Wind Instruments

Programmes

Dohnányi’s Sextet – a lively, colourful mix of timbres and tunes – inspired this Bohemian programme. Endymion pairs it with Martinů's Madrigals for violin and viola, whose rhythmic force belies their intimate scoring. Brahms' Trio treats the audience to a wealth of dance melodies, including a "gypsy" rondo finale!

Martinu – Three Madrigals for violin and viola, “Duo No. 1”, H313
Brahms – Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in A minor, Op. 114
Dohnányi – Sextet in C major (clarinet, horn, piano & string trio)

Endymion has performed Olivier Messiaen's chamber masterwork – written in a German prisoner-of-war camp – many times, and devotes the entire programme to it.

Some successful past performances have included appropriate readings or poetry.

Messiaen – Quartet for the End of Time

Endymion is delighted to offer this programme for the unusual combination of flute, viola and harp, following a very popular concert at Kings Place in 2014. It features Debussy’s Sonata, which was voted in the Top 50 Chamber Classics by BBC Music Magazine readers.

Beethoven – Serenade in D major for flute, violin and viola, Op.25
Debussy – Syrinx
Saint-Saëns – Fantaisie in A major for violin and harp, Op.124
Martinů – Duo No.1 for violin and viola, “3 Madrigals” H.313
Ravel – Sonatine for flute, viola and harp
Debussy – Sonata for flute, viola and harp, L.137

Endymion's newest programme presents two musical firsts, both by Mozart. The G minor piano quartet is widely agreed to be the first great ensemble work written for the new keyboard instrument, and the A major quintet holds the same distinction for the clarinet.

What luck they should both be by Mozart: audiences know they will be in safe hands, especially when performed by Endymion.

Mozart – Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor, K.478
Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K.581

Two classical German (or Austrian) piano quintets, one in homage to the other, share the programme with works by French composers, writing much later, and and with fewer constraints of form. Ravel's Mother Goose Suite takes the best, most evocative, moments from his ballet, and Poulenc's Sextet is full of fun.

Mozart – Quintet for piano and winds in E flat major, K.452
Ravel – Mother Goose Suite (arr. Nissen)
Beethoven – Quintet for piano and winds in E flat major, Op. 16
Poulenc – Sextet for piano and winds.

One of Endymion's favourite programmes: two great composers pushing the technical and expressive boundaries of the clarinet. For Mozart, a brand-new instrument to show off; for Brahms, an established part of the orchestra placed in a more intimate setting. Philip Venables' K takes its inspiration from the opening bars of Mozart's work.

Venables – K, a prelude to Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.
Mozart – Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A major, “Stadler”, K.581 
Brahms – Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in B minor, Op. 115.

Ligeti's Horn Trio is subtitled “Hommage à Brahms”, but was described by the composer as “music of our time”. Despite that, the work also brings to mind Beethoven, and Endymion pairs these two distinctive pieces with a sonata for violin by the classical master.

The Guardian wrote of our programme: The Endymion performances had a wonderful assurance about them, technical and musical, as if pairing these two distinctive masterpieces was the most natural thing in the world.

Beethoven – Violin sonata no. 5 in F major, “Spring Sonata”, Op.24
Ligeti – Trio for horn, violin and piano, ‘Hommage à Brahms’,
Brahms – Trio for horn, violin and piano in E flat major, Op.40

A programme inspired by jazz. Bartok's suite was written for jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman, and inspired by Ravel's violin sonata, itself responding to the new jazz and blues music coming from America. Both Bartok and Khachaturian conjure up folk-style melodies from their respective lands, while Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale is full of Russian ragtime.

Ravel – Violin sonata no. 2 in G major
Bartok – Suite for clarinet, violin and piano “Contrasts”, Sz.111
Khachaturian – Trio for clarinet, violin and piano in G minor
Stravinsky – The Soldier’s Tale suite (trio version)

Reviews

Endymion always communicate the pleasure they experience in music making

The Times

a powerful sense of energy and mystery evoked by Endymion

The Daily Telegraph

profound performances of the impossible

The Guardian

the brilliant Endymion

The Sunday Times

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