Music to grip an audience

Signum Quartet. Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, February 12. The standard of performance at these Aldeburgh lunchtime chamber music recitals has been, year in, year out, uniformly high.

Signum Quartet. Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, February 12.

The standard of performance at these Aldeburgh lunchtime chamber music recitals has been, year in, year out, uniformly high. Any fall in expectations would be almost unthinkable, yet equally, the number of performances imbued with that quality of music making that grips an audience immediately have not been that frequent.

However, already this season there have been two ensembles which posess that latter quality; the Dutch quartet, EnAccord, and, following them, the Signum Quartet.

The Signum are a German quartet founded way back in 1994, but performing in their present configuration only since 2007. Even so, they seem to possess the sort of intimate understanding of each others playing that usually derives from a much longer acquaintance.


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The arresting chordal opening to the first of Beethoven's late quartets, Opus 127, No.2 in E flat, presaged a reading of great musicality; perfectly balanced, tempi beautifully judged, and one which captured the essence of late Beethoven in their reading of the great central slow movement.

A greater contrast to the sound world of late Beethoven with that of Debussy is hard to imagine, yet they gave us an excellent performance of the G minor quartet. Perhaps the sound was at times a little heavy-handed, but there also plenty of the poetic quality the score demands, and their superb technique and rhythmic vitality made this an equally memorable reading.

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Frank Cliff

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