Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
St Peter's Church
Bridge Road
TQ14 0DB
United Kingdom
Type: Concert
Date: Friday 21 June 2013
Start Time: 7.30pm
Performer(s): Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Host Organisation: Shaldon Festival
Box Office Contact: Malcolm Watson
Box Office Email:

Ticket Information: Centre Seats £16, Side Seats £10, Student seats £5

Stephanie Gonley violin Martin Burgess violin
Robert Smissen viola Fiona Bonds viola
Stephen Orton cello Martin Loveday cello


Borodin: Sextet
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
Brahms: String Sextet No.1 in B flat Op.18


The Academy always arouses a high level of expectation. They are one of the top touring ensembles in the world and bring together players of outstanding ability.

The programme was planned to begin with the Mozart Quintet for Horn and Strings but due, at the last moment, to the horn player Tim Brown being indisposed the evening began with a two- movement sextet by Borodin. This proved to be no more than a curtain raiser, and one could sense the disappointment both in the change to the programme and the alternative music offered. ‘Tame’ is the word I would use.

What followed made up for this inadequate start. Tchaikovsky’s Sextet in D minor (Souvenir de Florence) is a stormy, almost wild work. It makes huge demands on all players who play as if at any moment they will surge out of control. The Academy was very much in control and it also provided a demonstration of what makes them so highly accomplished. A great deal of the work is rousing and energetic and in the intimate space of St Peter’s one is able to observe a group of players who took full command of the richness, technical intricacies and sheer speed of an exacting and pretty ferocious score. For the audience this was a hold on to your seat experience. Because of the considerable demands made one member of the audience commented ‘I’m not sure Tchaikovsky really liked his players’. What I do know is that it was a great pleasure to be in the company of players who aim high and achieve outstanding success.

After the interval we were in the calmer waters of Brahms with his Sextet for Strings. As you would expect from this composer there was a romantic, emotional feel to the piece. This was very true of the opening and third movements. The highlight, I thought, was the second movement when we heard a set of six variations based on a Hungarian gypsy melody. This was a delight and very evocative of people who enjoy open air celebration and dance. Sometimes gentle and thoughtful, and occasionally frenetic, the music had melodic qualities which demanded and received full audience attention.

The final movement was sedate in comparison and written in sonata form. Although quite charming, giving, at the opening, the cello an opportunity to show off, it was in many ways an anti- climax to the work as a whole. What was then needed to finish off the evening was for the Academy to play an attractive and lively encore. But there was none.

Leon Winston

To visit the Academy of St Martin in the Fields website click here

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.