Skip to main content

THE MARJORIE HAYWARD SEXTET, Tranchell, The Cambridge Review, 8th March 1952

Bearing in mind Brahms’ misogynistic proclivities, it is only to be expected that he should deliberately pack his sextets ops. 18 and 36 with ungracious octave passages (which would be sure to sound out of tune), well knowing that they would in due course be performed by a sturdy little string band of ladies called the Marjorie Hayward Sextet. However, in some mysterious way this difficulty was surmounted by the said band, and the composer in his ugly little foible was left perhaps not exactly gruntled.

There were some beautiful moments of individual playing, and in general we were treated to quite as much oasis as desert. But I regret to record that in a whole evening’s music there was not one pianissimo worth the name from the ensemble—and this in spite of Brahms. It may be thought that extremes of expression are in bad taste—cheap and sensational: but there is no doubt about it that even a single faux-pas of this sort lends tone and distinction to the rest of the performance.

Peter Tranchell