REVIEW: Accents by Ensemble K

This debut album from Ensemble K, led by conductor Simone Menezes is a charming collection of music that is elegantly performed.

Bringing together pieces of music composed by Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin, Claude Debussy, Aaron Copland, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Sophie Lacaze, this debut album from Ensemble K has great diversity and charming to listen to from start to finish.

Led by conductor Simone Menezes, the whole album is filled with captivating performances that really ring out. This is clear from the outset, thanks to a truly beautiful performance of ‘Polovtsian Dances’ by Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin. Every musician in the ensemble manages to capture the many different layers and musical experience that the piece has to offer. Menezes conducts with great depth and understanding for the piece.

Having formed in 2019, Ensemble K is formed of 15 musicians, yet when listening to their rendition of Aaron Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’, the richness and depth to the music that is being performed makes it seem as though there are twice as many of them. It is an easy going and pretty rendition of the piece, flowing gently with each change.

Yet, despite most of the album having a light and delicate touch, there is certainly a nice contrast with the two final pieces on the album. ‘Chôros no.5’ by Heitor Villa-Lobos has lovely dark undertones to it that make it distinctive from the other pieces selected for the album. Ensemble K really manage to draw out the drama that is within it to add a different tone to the album.

Meanwhile, the final selection for the album, Sophie Lacaze’s ‘Histoire sans paroles’ stands out for the way in which it starts all dainty and playful before transforming into something more confident and quirky. Ensemble K once again really make the most of every slight change in the piece, expertly picked out and enhanced by Menezes.

Overall, as a debut album it is elegant and has a great range of musical pieces that capture the warmth and attention to detail that Ensemble K are capable of bringing to the listeners attention. It will be interesting to see what they do next.

By Emma Clarendon

Accents will be released via Aparté on the 15th January.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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