This stimulating bit-by-bit reassembly of the string-quartet medium, opened with a confident and expressive performance of the Sarabande and Double from Bach’s First Partita for solo violin, by quartet-leader Pierre-Emmanuel Largeron.
Then joined by violinist Sarah Wormell, Schnittke’s quirky Moz-Art à la Haydn could scarcely have provided a greater contrast to the serenity of the opening piece. Never an easy work to bring off, here both players combined impressively, addressing the visual aspects of the performance with the same attention to detail as the musical score itself. Sarah might be the second player in quartet-format, but here she was every bit the co-leader, rising to the challenge with great aplomb.
Two’s company, three may be a crowd, but musical threesomes pose unique difficulties both for composer and performer alike. Now with violist Andrew Gillett, the players combined to give an overall-convincing account of Dvorak’s Terzetto, though the fact that it had taken only a few days to compose, did communicate at times.
Finally joined by cellist Jane Pirie, the fully-fledged quartet opened with Arvo Pärt’s Summa, a somewhat uninspiring work originally conceived for voices, rather in the manner of musical-wallpaper. Fortunately, Mozart’s Hunt Quartet proved a much better proposition, with the well-polished performance certainly emerging the evening’s musical highlight.
Unfortunately the printed programmes had gone astray, which clearly involved some last-minute workarounds, to the slight detriment of the presentation overall.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
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