Concerts at Cratfield Launches 32nd Summer Season

The Gould Piano Trio, Heath String Quartet and cellist Guy Johnston return in 2019

Debut performances at Cratfield from the Endellion String Quartet, Sounds Baroque, Castalian Quartet and pianist Sam Haywood

Cratfield, Suffolk, April 28 2019. Concerts at Cratfield today announced the programme for its 32nd season of classical and chamber music, which will run from June 30th until September 8th, 2019. It brings together some of Britain’s leading professional musicians and ensembles in the intimate setting of the medieval St Mary’s Church in the village of Cratfield in East Suffolk.

The 32nd season features music by a wide range of composers including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Corelli, Dodgson, Haydn, Janáček, Messiaen, Ravel, Schubert, Vivaldi and two contemporary composers Huw Watkins and Dobrinka Tabakova who we hope will be with us on the day. 

The series begins on June 30th with the highly-regarded Endellion String Quartet, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. They will play Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor Death and the Maiden” as well as music by Haydn, Puccini and  Janacek. 

The Gould Piano Trio described by the Washington Post as a combination of jeweller-like precision” – returns to Cratfield on July 14th  to play Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor, as well as works by Messiaen and Huw Watkins.

On July 28th, in their third appearance at Cratfield, the Heath Quartet plays quartets by Ravel and Beethoven and a new piece by the British-Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova, commissioned for the Cheltenham Festival.

Sounds Baroque make their debut appearance at Cratfield on August 11th. Heard regularly on Radio 3, they celebrate the influence of Italian music throughout Europe with a programme juxtaposing  Baroque masters including Corelli, Scarlatti and Telemann with Baroque-inspired tonal works by Stephen Dodgson.

Cellist Guy Johnston, a former BBC Young Musician of the Year and one of the most versatile British cellists of his generation, will be joined by leading international pianist Sam Haywood in a programme on August 25th. This includes Beethoven’s Sonata No 2 in G Major and Janacek’s Pohadka, as well as works by Bach and Franck.

As part of Cratfield’s mission to promote young artists, the Castalian Quartet, which is rapidly emerging as an exciting new voice in international chamber music, rounds off the season on September 8th with pieces by Beethoven and Brahms.

David Mintz, Chairman of Concerts at Cratfield, commented, We look forward to another wonderful summer of professional music-making in the unrivalled setting of Cratfield Church in Suffolk. We are delighted to welcome back the Heath Quartet, the Gould Piano Trio and cellist Guy Johnston this year. It is also a great privilege to have the Endellion String Quartet, Sounds Baroque, the Castalian Quartet and the pianist Sam Haywood join us at Cratfield for the first time for what promises to be another unforgettable season.” 

For more information about Concerts at Cratfield, including how to buy tickets, please visit our website You can also follow us on Twitter @concertsatcrat1

Media Inquiries

Jonathan Birt Tel: 07860 361746

About Concerts at Cratfield

Concerts at Cratfield and its predecessor Blyth Valley Chamber Music began in 1987 and became a charitable trust in 1993 and a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) in 2016.  Concerts at Cratfield presents six afternoon chamber concerts on alternate Sundays over the summer at the church of St Mary’s, Church Road, Cratfield, East Suffolk, IP19 0BU. Concerts include solo recitals, duos and trios through to string quartets and larger ensembles.

Since 2014, Cratfield has welcomed a wide range of leading professional musicians and ensembles, including the Allegri , Badke, Brodsky, Calino, Carducci,  Cavaleri, Elias, Heath, Maxwell, Navarra and Zemlinsky Quartets; the André Trio, Aronovitz Ensemble, Chroma Trio, Lendvai String Trio and Leonore Piano Trio; and artists including tenor James Gilchrist, guitarist Craig Ogden, and pianists Charles Owen, Katya Apekisheva, Anna Tilbrook and Kathryn Stott.

Cratfield is a small village in tranquil and rolling countryside about 5 miles west of the A12, close to Halesworth and Yoxford. We especially welcome young people and students, who can book tickets at half price.

2018 season – put these dates in your diary now

1 July – – Leonore Piano Trio
15 July – – Jack Liebeck (violin) Katya Apekisheva (piano)
29 July – – Allegri String Quartet
12 August – – Maxwell String Quartet
26 August – – Kathyrn Stott (piano)
9 September – – Carducci String Quartet with Craig Ogden (guitar)

Reactions from our Audience

An experienced concert-goer and lover of Brahms’s music gave his thoughts on the recent recital by the Aronowitz concert
on Sunday 13 August 2017

My first ever LP was the Brahms Piano Quintet, my second was the first Symphony, and one of the next after that was the two cello sonatas on an old Naxos  recording which was amazingly sonorous for its day. There are works I have loved all my life – Desert island choices ! But hardly the sort of music which is expected to ‘grab’ a ten year old boy! I have never been on the same wavelength as Beethoven’s idiom. His music means relatively little to me:  it is too ‘bombastic’, and it is basically simple compared with the wonderful sophistication of Brahms, and by comparison is lacks cross-rhythms which play such a big part in Brahms’s music. Brahms may have felt in the shadow of Beethoven, but in my view he owes more to JS Bach than to Beethoven as the roots of his music are classical. If you told me that Bach was the greatest composer who ever lived I would not try to disagree but not Beethoven please! Brahms’s music is not ‘brown and turgid’. You need to listen to Brahms more than once to get the best out of it. Nowadays there are masses of so-called music lovers who want and expect to get instant gratification – but Brahms doesn’t offer it. My long held description of Brahms also uses the word brown but in an approving manner – “rich dark brown” – like French-polished furniture, so fashionable at the time he was composing ! It is full of pathos and vibrant romanticism – and of the German variety. In my view Brahms’ stands on his own feet – no propping up from anybody – as one of the very greatest composers of all time. And even if I know that JSB was the greater figure I still hold Brahms in a hugely special place in my life!

Best wishes, William Wickham

14 August 2017

An impromptu response to the Aronowitz concert
on Sunday 13 August 2017

Hello Pauline: I am just writing to say how much we enjoyed the concert just now, a view that was shared by the people sitting next to us. It was the first time we have been to one of your concerts and we were extremely impressed; not only with the performance but also the standard of organisation and also the delicious tea and cake!

Best regards, Bill Irving

14 August 2017

An impromptu response to the Chroma concert
Sunday 30 July 2017

A brilliant performance; thank you and the team and the Trio. I  arrived with a little uncertainty, not knowing the music and never sure about the harp. However, I thought it was an afternoon to celebrate; I wish I could hear the performances again, enhanced by the rapt attention from the audience where the intense silence and refusal to “bravo” in the middle of pieces added to the mood. I was very impressed by the interaction between the musicians and the subtleties and intricacies of the music itself, especially the Ibert and the Renie. Surely Radio 3 would welcome an occasional summer outing to Cratfield so that a wider audience could listen as well ?

Thanks again, Mike Simmons

2 August 2017

New Archive Section

Visit our new archive section to see programmes from last season’s concerts and Roger Parker’s talks on Haydn and Beethoven.

AGM 2016: Constitutional and other changes

At the 2016 AGM in December 2016, Members & Patrons heard reports on the season’s concerts and finances, as well as a preview of the 2017 season.  At the same time, the meeting approved the Trustees’ proposal to convert the charitable trust which has run Concerts at Cratfield since 1993 (Blyth Valley Chamber Music) into a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation, to be called Concerts at Cratfield CIO, which is already registered with the Charity Commission and whose new Constitution was circulated with the AGM papers.

The AGM also appointed Trustees for what is expected to be the last year of Blyth Valley Chamber Music (the same names were all already Trustees in 2016).  These are also those who have already volunteered to be the Trustees of the new CIO:

David Mintz (Chairman)

Peter Baker

Alan McLean

Clare Webb

Kathrin Peters

Richard  Quarrell

Michael Taylor

If you are a Member or Patron of BVCM, you will hear individually about any new arrangements for subscriptions, Standing Orders and Gift Aid.  You wll also receive a copy of the draft AGM Minutes.

Annual 2017 subscriptions for what will now be called Friends (formerly Members) and Patrons in 2017 will be (Friends) £20 single person and £30 up to two people at the same address; and (Patrons) a minimum of £96 up to two people at the same address. 

To be a Friend or Patron of the CIO will bring the same booking priority as always, together with the right to vote at a General Meeting of the organisation.



Concert review: André Trio, 14 August 2016

I always get a little anxious about writing reviews. Not least is the problem of attempting to present something in a creative and engaging way, and it occurs to me that it mildly echoes the challenge faced by all musicians performing ‘core repertoire’ as part of their programmes: how to say something fresh, interesting and insightful yet still stay true to the composer’s intentions, the musical ‘brief’ presented in the score. And so, with the André Trio offering two major ‘standards’ of the piano trio repertoire in their concert at Cratfield, at least a part of any review must address this issue.

I have just watched some of the highlights of the Olympic Games in Rio. I’m not a great fan of sport (although my wife keeps reminding me that I’m in denial about that) but I am hugely enthusiastic about and greatly admire all who, in pursuit of their passions and interests, develop their skills and talents with singular focus and intensity. And perhaps this is where music and sport have much in common: there is something life-affirming, joyful and celebratory in both which the ancient Greeks recognised when the Games were instituted. Indeed, music was a major feature of the Games from the start (apparently the pentathlon and long jump were accompanied by music) and musical contests were the major focus of the Pythian Games dedicated to Apollo, God of the Arts.

So perhaps, if you will allow a little self-indulgence, there may some analogies that can be drawn between the Games and the André Trio’s performance. Certainly the choice of repertoire was ‘Olympian’ in its musical demands; the trio rose to those demands admirably, sustaining our rapt engagement and excited attention throughout the whole 90-minute programme. Here was energetic, muscular, athletic, honed and toned playing, unwavering in its forward drive and sense of direction and intent. Even when we reached the slow movement of the Mendelssohn there was no temptation to wallow in its ‘sticky’ sweetness, an over-indulgence which mars many performances; instead, just enough refined sugar to sustain us to the end of that particular musical marathon.

What then of the ‘set routines’, the ‘required elements’ and how were those given that something special that takes a performance to a different level? I suppose that we all have our favourite version or versions of core repertoire such as the Archduke or the Mendelssohn trios. It may be the one we first heard or grew up with or even chose from Radio Three’s ‘Building a Library’ series and it becomes the interpretation by which we tend to measure all other performances; the standard against which others are, both consciously and unconsciously, judged. And this is the challenge for the musician: to ‘convince’ us of the integrity of their interpretation: to win us over to a new way of seeing the familiar, of awakening us to new possibilities.

There was a real sense of conviction in the André Trio’s performances, a sense of meticulous attention to preparation and to the shifting roles each had to play in three very different musical dramas which gave their interpretations great integrity in all three works. It would have been difficult not to be won over by their musical arguments in all three works.

This reminds us, also, that all chamber music is based on ‘teamwork’, a democracy of shared ideas and inspirations in rehearsal that will shape and govern the outcome, whilst still remaining flexible enough to allow individual spontaneity and sudden insight and respond accordingly in performance. This latter requires extraordinary trust in one’s ‘team mates’, an almost intuitive understanding, and there was much evidence of an intense musical bond amongst these young musicians which we could all enjoy, appreciate and applaud.

If I could stretch the Olympian theme further, we might see the whole programme as something of a Triathlon; three very different musical styles, each with their own particular demands, and the André Trio showed themselves technically and intellectually prepared to meet the musical challenges of Beethoven, Fauré and Mendelssohn in their perfectly paced programme.

In short, the André Trio certainly ‘brought home gold’ in a precious and glittering performance. I hope that Apollo was honoured; we, as audience, most certainly were.

Victor Scott

27 July 2016





Church roof lead theft: a conviction

As the newspaper report below shows, there has been some effective police work in tracking down one of those who stole lead from the roof of St Mary’s in December 2015.  Click on the image to increase its size.

Lead theft


Concert review: Quartetto Rossi, 31 July 2017

Quartetto Rossi at Cratfield

Quartetto Rossi at Cratfield

A ‘pop-up’ quartet, when it has been chosen as thoughtfully as this, can play very well and somehow with an extra charge. When it became clear that the London Haydn Quartet were unable to play on 31 July, tickets had already been sold and Philip Britton had to find a replacement – preferably one that played on early instruments. Jonathan Byers, known to Cratfield as the cellist of the Badke Quartet, also plays ‘his other cello’ in period ensembles and was able to gather three colleagues to form a quartet.

It was evidently a really happy band and they played well together. Michael Gurevich, who would have been playing second violin with the London Haydn Quartet, for this concert played first violin. (Quartetto Rossi was chosen as the three men are redheads and, though Simone Jandl didn’t fit the description, Jonathan has a red beard!)

As music in the nineteenth century was played in ever larger spaces, more volume was required from the string instruments and their construction changed to provide extra strength; gut strings were wound with metal wire and and a new style of playing emerged.

The Quartetto Rossi were playing instruments with gut strings, the cello supported between the knees as it has no spike; they used an earlier style of bow held differently and they played with an almost complete absence of vibrato. The result is a warmer, softer sound: Nikolaus Harnoncourt described it as ‘quiet, but with a sweet sharpness’. The lack of vibrato is quite noticeable and demands greater accuracy in pitching notes.

The set of six string quartets op 20 Haydn wrote in 1772 were the culmination of twenty years’ experience of writing baryton trios, trio sonatas and two earlier sets of string quartets. As Donald Tovey put it: ‘with op 20 the historical development of Haydn’s quartets reaches its goal; and further progress is not progress in any historical sense, but simply the difference between one masterpiece and the next.’ Haydn was devising ways of valuing each of the four instruments equally, not treating one or two as soloists with an accompaniment. We heard op 20 no 3 of this set: I was delighted to hear it with fresh ears though it had been played at Cratfield by the Navarra Quartet in 2010 (on modern instruments).

The concert had started with a quartet Haydn wrote 18 years later in 1790, op 64 no 1. This quartet was familiar, though it hadn’t been played before at Cratfield.

The final quartet was one of the six quartets that Mozart dedicated to Haydn, K 428. It was written in about 1784, so almost exactly between the two Haydn quartets we had heard before the interval. I don’t remember hearing one of the Mozart ‘Haydn’ quartets in the same programme as a Haydn quartet and my initial reaction was a feeling that, in direct contrast, the Mozart sounded more assured. This was rather a setback for me as I had previously thought of myself as a committed Haydn enthusiast. Perhaps it was just that I was more familiar with the Mozart.

What was a bigger challenge was the sparing use of vibrato. Though I have several recordings of Quatuor Mosaïques playing Haydn quartets, almost all the recorded and concert performances of string quartets I have heard have been played on modern instruments. The Quartetto Rossi played with impressive ensemble and enthusiasm and one knew that this was much closer to the sound heard by Haydn and Mozart, but I still look forward to hearing performances of string quartets, even early ones by Haydn, on modern instruments. Nonetheless, the fine playing of the Quartetto Rossi convinced me that we would benefit from hearing more performances on instruments contemporary to the music being played.

Jeremy Greenwood

6 August 2016

Concert review: the Heath Quartet, 17 July 2016

Concerts at Cratfield: the Heath Quartet, Sunday 17 July 2016

After the season got off to such a brilliant start two weeks ago with the excitement of Nicholas Daniel performing the specially-commissioned Fanfare for a New Roof and the Carducci Quartet in predictably fine form, the bar might seem to have been set intimidatingly high for our second concert.

It did not prove so, however, for the Heath Quartet. They took that standard in their elegant stride and added a special bonus for Members and Patrons by coming to Suffolk a day early and giving a gem of a performance on Saturday evening at the Christies’ converted barn at Parham. We heard three pieces by JS Bach, transcribed for strings from his original organ compositions, and Mozart’s last string quartet, K590. The exuberant note on which the Mozart ended seemed wholly in tune with the idyllic summer evening and the charm of the setting.

Improbably, for a normal summer, the idyll was set to continue when we returned to Cratfield on Sunday. It proved to be another perfect English summer day; temperature in the low eighties, a hint of a breeze, the leaves not yet tired and the grass still fresh. On such occasions St Mary’s churchyard is at its incomparable, Betjeman best and the church positively glowing in the sunlight.

Having ended with Mozart on Saturday, we began with an earlier work of his on Sunday; the ‘Hunt’ quartet, K458. It is an exuberant piece and the lively rhythms, particularly in the first movement, brought out an aspect of performance generally to which I had not previously paid much attention; for not only did the Heath play beautifully, they moved beautifully. This was made possible because they stand to play. In full orchestral performances conductors are recognisable by their gestures, for better or for worse, but to the concertgoer they contribute little towards enjoying the variety of elements in the music. By contrast, on Sunday we saw how each of these young musicians could endorse with their movements the dynamic and emotion in their respective parts in a way that would not have been possible had they been sitting. Grace and restraint were of course needed, and these they had, so the effect in ensemble was to offer a quite unexpected, further layer of enjoyment; yet another pleasure exclusive to live performance – so away with chairs, I say. Christopher Murray, the cellist, had no choice, of course, but having his own small podium he was not lost to view.

Bartok’s quartet no 3 followed the Mozart, a leap of nearly a century and a half. It offered rather less balletic scope for the group but it was a refreshing contrast and produced some intriguing and unusual sounds, fully explained in Philip Britton’s programme notes. Philip’s introductions are now indispensable to my enjoyment of the concerts; they are building into a sort of personalised mini-Grove, scholarly but always readable, and a fine memory substitute for previous years.

The interval followed, time for tea and cakes, and especially time for further reflections on setting and the importance of adding variety to our sensory experience. It was pleasing to note that the tree seat in the shade of the copper beech, installed in memory of one of the concert founders David Holmes, was filled full circle as never before.

The highlight of the day was a truly outstanding performance of Beethoven’s quartet in B flat, op 130. I can add nothing to Philip’s description of the work except to say that it was big and completely satisfying. The Heath were playing superbly, moving elegantly and the late afternoon light through the clerestory was quite glorious; it was a perfect sum of pleasures.

Don Peacock

20 July 2016


Concert review: the Carducci Quartet/Daniel, Sunday 3 July 2016

Concerts at Cratfield: Carducci String Quartet with Nicholas Daniel (oboe and cor anglais): Sunday 3 July 2016

However dank and gloomy our summer may be, there is always the consolation of looking forward every other Sunday for six weeks to a concert at St Mary’s Cratfield. The standard kept up by the organisers, who give us an alternating succession of highly distinguished and relatively new but highly talented musicians, playing familiar and unfamiliar music to entertain and stimulate us, never ceases to amaze.

The opening concert of this season certainly came into the highly distinguished category, combining one of the finest string quartets around with one of the most accomplished and world-famous woodwind players of our age. It opened literally with a flourish – the first performance of a fanfare to celebrate the replacement of the lead roof of the North Aisle stolen last summer, written by a composer closely associated with Concerts at Cratfield, Elena Langer, and scored for oboe and four triangles. It is a brilliant and highly enjoyable piece, requiring prodigies of virtuosity from the principal performer who is required to produce an extraordinary range of tonal and pitch variations extending over the full range of the instrument from bottom to very top. It could not have had a more accomplished and amazing introduction and I enjoyed it hugely as obviously did the audience generally, giving performer(s| and composer a considerable ovation.

The other work in the programme new at least to me was the Concertino for oboe and string quartet named The Flaying of Marsyas, written by David Matthews and inspired by Titian’s remarkable last painting. I have to say that, while I have never seen the original, it is an artwork which I find very difficult to look at in reproduction, depicting as it does the agonising death of Marsyas, hung upside-down and skinned alive while Apollo looks on – the penalty for challenging Apollo to a musical contest and losing. However, David Matthews has been able to find an element of consolation and even compassion culminating in Marsyas’s blood being transformed into a river, a kind of apotheosis comparable perhaps to Daphne’s transformation into a laurel tree. Matthews has certainly been able to create remarkably beautiful and moving instrumental music out of the legend, depicting in his score the whole story including Marsyas’s discovery of a reed that will play music, his gradual mastery of it, his foolhardy challenge to Apollo, the competition itself, Marsyas’s terrible death which is not underplayed and his final apotheosis It may be more correctly described as written for oboe, solo violin and string trio as the Quartet’s first violin, Matthew Denton, was required to play an equal role depicting Apollo with the oboe representing Marsyas. Needless to say it received a flawless and ultimately uplifting performance. No doubt the audience’s appreciation was enhanced, as certainly was mine, by the short spoken introduction given by Matthews himself, supplementing the already very helpful programme note extracted from one written by Mike Wheeler for its performance at the Leicesster International Music Festival in 2013.

The rest of the works in the concert were more familiar, except perhaps for the Adagio in C by Mozart written for cor anglais and three other unspecified instruments, in this case three members of the quartet, a beautiful little piece reminiscent of his choral Ave Verum Corpus. This was followed by the 11th quartet of Shostakovich, strange and melancholy, and Mozart’s Oboe Quartet, of which there is little more that can be said but that it is Mozart at his peak. The final work, played by the quartet alone, was Beethoven’s ‘Serioso’ Quartet op 95, again a strange and disturbing work which never ceases to surprise by its mixture of violence and lyricism but with its sunny cheerful ending, perhaps Beethoven saying ‘cheer up, things aren’t so bad after all’, coming as a surprise, however often it is heard.

An additional nice surprise was the very generous provision of free tea and sinfully delicious cakes provided by the parish in the interval as a gesture of thanks for the contribution of concertgoers to the cost of the roof repair. As ever, the erudite and well-written programme notes by Philip Britton for all the works other than that by David Matthews added greatly to our appreciation of the music.

 Altogether a really splendid opening to the season, which promises many other delights to come..

John Sims

10 July 2016