Endymion, Chamber Music Ensemble
“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. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019, 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 ensemble 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.
Photo credits: Eamonn McCabe, Joseph Ford Thompson
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
New Finnish Music
Dohnanyi & Fibich
Igor Stravinsky: Symphonies of Wind Instruments
- Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets
- Piano Quartets
- Quartet for the End of Time
- Piano and Winds
- Piano Quintets
- Hommage à Brahms
- From New Orleans to Moscow
- Czech Mates
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.
One of Endymion's newest programmes, which focuses on the piano quartet. Mozart's G minor piano quartet is widely agreed to be the first great ensemble work written for the new keyboard instrument, and the Dvorak Piano Quartet is its perfect companion piece.
As Endymion likes to mix up its instrumentation, the programme is completed by a choice of a string trio.
Kodaly – Serenade for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 12 - OR - Martinu - String Trio No. 2, H238
Mozart – Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor, K.478
Dvorak – Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 87
Endymion's larger programme of pieces with unusual instrumentation. It features Dohnányi’s Sextet, a lively, colourful mix of timbres and tunes, Prokofiev's beautiful Overture on Hebrew Themes, as well as Mozart's Horn Quintet.
Prokofiev – Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34 (clarinet, string quartet & piano)
Mozart – Horn Quintet (violin, two violas, cello & horn)
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
Two classical 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.
This new Endymion programme highlights Shostakovich and Elgar's only works for the piano quintet instrumentation – both wonderful pieces, which deserve to be heard more. The programme also features Schnittke's String Trio, which was written as a commemoration of Alban Berg's centenary.
Shostakovich – Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57
Schnittke – String Trio for violin, viola and cello
Elgar – Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84
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)
Endymion's Czech programme starts off with two duos from key Czech composers – Janacek and Martinu – and in the second half all four players come together for Dvorak's wonderful Piano Quartet.
Janacek – Pohadka for cello and piano
Martinu – Three Madrigals for violin and viola, “Duo No. 1”, H313
Dvorak – Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 87
profound performances of the impossibleThe Guardian
Endymion always communicate the pleasure they experience in music makingThe Times
a powerful sense of energy and mystery evoked by EndymionThe Daily Telegraph
the brilliant EndymionThe Sunday Times