The two most appealing things about summer lunchtime recitals at St Andrews are the diversity of styles on offer, and the range of musical expertise of the performers, from professional to amateur, and well-seasoned, to primary-school novices.
Wivelscombe String Quartet not only epitomised the ethos of the series as a whole, but also the original concept of chamber music – something which initially was played primarily by amateur musicians in their homes.
Ranging from medic, scientist, academic, and lecturer, Jess Welbourne and Martin Coath (violins), Hilary Lade (viola), and Ruth Atkinson (cello) served up an interesting programme of less well-known fare from the Classical period. Opening with Haydn’s Op 3 No 5 Quartet, the players maintained an overall taut and well-balanced ensemble that captured the style well, taking just a few bars at the outset for any performance nerves to settle.
The Scherzo from Beethoven’s Op 18 No 4 Quartet was despatched with some élan, before the undoubted highlight – Boccherini’s Quartet Op 33 No 6 – brought matters to a decidedly punctual close, and where more secure playing, and particularly the assured contribution from First Violin, added greatly to the success of the performance. True there were flaws, but these took a back seat, in terms of the obvious enjoyment the players communicated to their audience, and surely what the genre was all about before professionals got in on the act.
PHILIP R BUTTALL