Hosier Quartet

The French have produced more than their fair share of modernist composers, from early pioneers such as Debussy and Fauré to later 20th century giants including Satie, Poulenc, Ravel, Messiaen and Boulez. So how has Darius Milhaud passed me by? Not only did he write great works but he also tutored some of the musicians who created the soundtrack of our lifetime – jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, songwriter Burt Bacharach and minimalism trailblazers Philip Glass and Steve Reich all studied under him. Fortunately the Hosier Quartet scattered the clouds of my ignorance with a Charlton House recital built around Milhaud’s Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano – which happen to be the instruments played by Guildhall School of Music virtuosi Fiona Sweeney, Caitlin Heathcote, Raymond Brien and Emilia de Geer. They brought the piece’s four movements to life despite the challenging time-signatures, multicultural polyrhythms and jazz-tinged syncopations which would have defeated many a fine musician and certainly divided the audience. But all power to them, say I, because the discovery of Milhaud is a joy as well as a welcome extension of my knowledge. And as to its challenges, well, we all need those just to keep the old grey matter churning away under our grey hairs…

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