Innovation Chamber Ensemble
St Peter's Church, Shaldon
Bridge Road
TQ14 0DB
United Kingdom
Type: Concert
Date: Sunday 25 June 2017
Start Time: 7.30pm
Performer(s): Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Host Organisation: Shaldon Festival
Box Office Contact: Malcolm Watson
Box Office Email:

David Le Page Violin
Catherine Leech Violin
Louise Williams Viola
Catherine Yates Viola
Richard Jenkinson Cello
Jessica Burroughs Cello
John Tattersdill Double bass

Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht
Mozart: Grand Sestetto Concertante in E Flat, K364
Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen



The Innovation Chamber Ensemble is a truly amazing ensemble that, through seemingly intuitive commitment to each other, engages their audience in a compellingly spellbinding musical journey.

Mention Schoenberg and the reaction is often tainted by thoughts of abstruse atonalism and squeaky gates! However, Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night) is a pre-Serial piece firmly within late Romanticism, yet hinting at things to come in terms of harmony and chromaticism. Schoenberg was a great admirer of Wagner and it is interesting to reflect that the opening few bars of the Prelude to Tristan and Isolde can be analyzed in terms of pure Serialism.

Programme music, usually the domain of a full orchestral palate, was given the intimacy that only a small ensemble can achieve through imperceptible nods and glances and the more overt passionate dialogue between the cello and violin. The group’s use of mutes and harmonics, expressing the shimmering beauty of the moonlight, brought the text to life transporting and transfixing us on this transfiguring evening of musical delight.

We moved from the 2nd Viennese School to the Vienna of Mozart and a tremendously clever arrangement of the Sinfonia Concertante in Eb. Close your eyes and the horns and oboes were there! Subtle gradations of tone and dynamics lifted the concertante violin and viola from the texture in the solo sections. Beautifully crafted interplay between the soloists, and astonishing unanimity within the group, in terms of little shifts of tempo and in exploiting the relatively new (at the time) concept of crescendo, made it an absolute joy!

In the darkest winter days of 1945, the Vienna State Opera had been obliterated and a month previously the Dresden Opera had been carpet-bombed into oblivion; this the venue of so many of Richard Strauss’ own premieres. Grief-stricken, Strauss set to work on the Metamorphosen.

Such huge sadness, pathos yet warmth, was conveyed by the faultless playing of each individual. Almost an equal partnership of roles within the immensely rich and sonorous scoring of this remarkable work brought out compassionate and selfless contributions from each member of the ensemble. Heart-wrenching unresolved suspensions, and the scotch-snap rhythmic device in the second theme, were all conferred with dignity and stunning musicality. As the final chord faded literally to nothing with breathtaking bow-control, the long reflective silence held us in awe of this incredible ensemble and a profoundly moving evening of music making.

Nigel Crabtree 26th June 2017

Innovation Chamber Ensemble
Strings from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

'Amazingly rich and well-articulated sound quality is a significant feature of the Innovation Chamber Ensemble...The superb interaction between the Ice players in general is admirable making it possible for them to capture and convey every mood they might choose...' (Birmingham Post)

The Innovation Chamber Ensemble was formed in 2002 by the principal string players of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to make a unique ensemble who strive for performances of the highest calibre. This 'conductor less' group ranges in size to a maximum of sixteen string players and incorporates both enthusiasm and many years of experience from working with 'worldclass' musicians such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons. Due to its versatility I.C.E. is able to perform in venues that would be impossible for the ensemble's bigger cousin.

I.C.E. was launched to the world in September 2002 with concerts firstly in its orchestral home of the West Midlands and then at the Wigmore Hall in London. The Independent newspaper commented at the time that this was one of the top events to happen nationally in the U.K (second only to a new production of Siegfried). The concert in Birmingham also created major press and radio coverage and prompted Blue Rhythm Records to approach the group about recording the event live. This recording, titled 'ICE ON FIRE' is available with distribution to all major outlets and shops through Nova via Pinnacle, through the Britannia Music magazine and at and

The profile of the Ensemble has also been subsequently raised by significant coverage by both of the nation's classical radio channels. Classic F.M. featured 'ICE on Fire' as CD of the week and also previewed many of the group's concerts with interviews and features. The Innovation Chamber Ensemble has played 'Live' on B.B.C. Radio 3 and ICE on Fire' has also received air time on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 2, Saga and many regional radio stations. The group has also appeared on BBC 4 and the Creative Channel Network television. Articles about I.C.E. have appeared in the Strad, Musical Opinion and Classical Music magazines and Independent, Daily Mirror, Birmingham Post, Evening Mail and many local newspapers.

The group's repertoire is hugely diverse and includes standards by Bach and Vivaldi and encapsulates the great Romantic masters as well as the 20th Century giants of Bartok, Britten, Stravinsky and Schönberg. I.C.E. is also firmly committed to the works of living composers. The two launch concerts featured works by Paul da Vinci alongside that giant of the light music field Robert Farnon (who after hearing the ICE recording of Song of Scandia penned Richard a lovely arrangement of Pictures in the Fire). Further premieres have included Colin Twig's Echoes of Eternity (for cello & strings premiered in Birmingham and subsequently performed in Suffolk and 2007 Deal Festival) and Ivor McGregor's Septet.

The groups concerts have included several performances at Wigmore Hall and performances at CBSO Centre, Birmingham, St Davids, Fishgaurd and Deal festivals (both 2007 & 2008), concerts in various parts of the country and a special relationship with the county of Shropshire where the group has appeared no less than five times in the last twelve months.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Grande Sestetto Concertante in E flat K364

Allegro maestoso

Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major for violin, viola and orchestra, K.364, was his most significant composition during 1779, a work from the transitional period leading up to his maturity. Nothing is known of the occasion for which it was written and the autograph score has disappeared. Only a few bars of the first movement and a sketch for a cadenza remain in Mozart's hand so today we rely upon printed parts published by André in 1802. However, in 1808, a version for string sextet appeared with the composer’s name given as A.W. Mozart, with his initials reversed, and without acknowledgement of the arranger. It is possible that the autograph score was used to create this version for there are significant differences between it and the one published by André.

Mozart wrote for a scordatura viola, i.e. with the instrument tuned up a semitone above the usual tuning, placing it in D major, in order to solve the difficulties of tonal balance between the solo instruments. In the anonymously arranged sextet version great ingenuity was shown in re-allocating the solo lines between the six instruments and Mozart's problem of balance was resolved by giving some of the viola passages to the first 'cello. As if to compensate, the viola, instead of the violin, is allowed to open the finale. The orchestral parts are distributed amongst the instruments, and the cadenzas, too, are divided amongst the players, sometimes requiring the inclusion of additional material. The Grande Sestetto has now been edited by the well known harpsichordist, conductor and scholar Christopher Hogwood to provide an acceptable edition, with inconsistencies ironed out and alterations made, to make it compatible with modern performance practices.

The long first movement is remarkably full of thematic motifs maintaining a joyful mood. A dark hue pervades the Andante as it turns to the key of C minor. Deep emotions seem to be involved here and it has even been suggested that Mozart was paying tribute to his mother who had died during the previous year while she was accompanying him to Paris. With a return to happier thoughts the Presto finale brings a lighthearted Rondo based on lively dance tunes.

Programme notes provided by John Dalton, February 2008, courtesy of Making Music.

Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen
Adagio – agitato – adagio

Strauss composed this unusual piece, a study for 23 solo strings, in 1945. The war was nearly over, and the Allies were advancing through a defeated and dispirited Germany. Metamorphosen can be seen as a lament by the 81-year-old Strauss for his fallen country and its vanished past.

Although Strauss made a version of this piece for string septet, the work, in the form in which we most often hear it, is scored for ten violins, five violas, five 'cellos and three double basses. It variously features solo instruments, groups of strings, and the whole 23-piece orchestra. The piece is built up on six themes, divided into two groups of three. These themes undergo considerable development and transformations – the metamorphoses of the title – to produce an elaborate texture in which instrumental groups contrast with each other and from which lyrical solo passages now and then emerge.

The work is tinged with desolate tragedy from the very outset, as two violins present the despondent opening theme. This is followed by a progression of sad chords that remind the listener of the Funeral March from Beethoven's Eroica symphony. The reminder is not coincidental, for at the very end of this bleak work, these chords come back as a counterpoint to the actual music from Beethoven's symphony.

A Swiss ensemble, the Collegium Musicum, under their conductor, the great Paul Sacher, premièred Metamorphosen in Zürich in 1946. At the end of the score, the composer had written two words: In memoriam – a reference surely to the Germany that he knew was gone forever.

Programme notes provided by William Gould, May 2000, courtesy of Making Music

Parking Map for St Peter's Church, Shaldon


St Peter’s Church, Bridge Road, Shaldon, TQ14 0DB


1. Long Stay Public Carpark ½ mile from the church, reached through the village or off the A379 coast road to Torquay, postcode TQ14 0HP – 381 spaces, “pay & display” during the day but free after 6.00pm. Allow 15 minutes for the blue walking route shown.
2. Short Stay Public Carpark, opposite the church, postcode TQ14 0BP – 48 spaces, “pay & display” subject to a short stay 4 hour limit during the day but free after 6.00pm.
3. Extra parking – limited space adjoining the recreation ground reached from Ringmore Road but with easy pedestrian access to the Church along the estuary embankment. If using this area, please park “tidily” to maximise the usable space; this area is only available for parking as a special arrangement for the Festival.


Please telephone Malcolm Watson on 01626 873492 if you need help with letting someone alight at the church and/or need seating space for a wheelchair. In addition, there are a very few parking spaces close to the church which we can reserve for those with mobility difficulties on a first come, first served, basis.