In the heart of Fenland, on a damp evening in June, history was not just recounted but vividly brought to life at the Church of St. Giles, Holme, with the enchanting premiere of Peter Fribbins’s “The Fens”. This event proved to be a remarkable convergence of local heritage and classical music, featuring the talents of the Brother Tree Sound string quartet and the renowned horn player, Ben Goldscheider.

The concert began with a stirring rendition of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F minor Op.95 ‘Serioso’, a piece that set a profound and somewhat introspective tone for the evening. The precision and depth of of the quartet, as they navigated through Beethoven’s complex harmonies, prepared the audience for an evening of exceptional music.

The highlight of the night, however, was undoubtedly the world premiere of “The Fens”. Fribbins, who has deep familial roots in the surrounding area, crafted a quintet that is both a homage to and a reflection of his heritage. The movements of the piece beautifully encapsulated the essence of Peterborough’s medieval splendour, the transformative impact of the Great Northern Railway on the fenland, and the historical significance of St Withburga’s floating church. The composer’s ability to intertwine local history with his musical composition added layers of depth and resonance that were palpably felt throughout the church.

Ben Goldscheider’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. His horn playing, especially in the emotive sections of “The Fens”, added a rich, sonorous quality that complemented the string quartet’s strings. The musical dialogue between the horn and the strings was meticulously balanced, weaving a narrative that was both lush and evocative.

The concert also featured Alexander Glazunov’s Idyll and Serenade for horn and strings Op.11, pieces that harmoniously blended with the evening’s theme by highlighting the horn’s lyrical capabilities. Goldscheider’s mastery was evident as he elicited a broad spectrum of emotions from his instrument, from the tranquil to the exuberant.

Closing the evening was Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor Op.13, a piece that echoes with youthful vigour and earnestness. This choice was particularly apt as it mirrored the innovative spirit of Fribbins’s new composition, bridging the past and present of musical expression.

The event was not just a concert but a journey through time, facilitated by the emotive power of music. The audience, clearly moved by the performance, provided a standing ovation that spoke volumes of the connection forged between the musicians and their listeners. It was a fitting tribute to the historical and cultural tapestry of the Fenland and a testament to the enduring beauty and relevance of classical music.

As the echoes of the evening linger in the minds of those who were present, “The Fens” by Peter Fribbins is poised to become a significant addition to the contemporary classical repertoire, celebrated not just for its artistic merit but for its heartfelt nod to the rich history of the Fenland.