Return of a true master

Aldeburgh Festival, Quatuor Diotima, Aldeburgh Church, June 18. In their afternoon recital, Quatuor Diotima proved themselves to be true masters. A few blemishes in violin intonationmarred the opening of Haydn's Opus 20 No.

Aldeburgh Festival, Quatuor Diotima, Aldeburgh Church, June 18.

In their afternoon recital, Quatuor Diotima proved themselves to be true masters. A few blemishes in violin intonation

marred the opening of Haydn's Opus 20 No. 1 quartet, but elsewhere all was joy and delight in what proved a very

stylish performance. However, the highlight of the afternoon was their impassioned account of Janacek's second


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string quartet "Intimate Letters", faultless in execution, it sounded as if this music were in their very bones.

In between came something more challenging.

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One of the composers who features prominently at this year's Festival is Elliott Carter, now 101 years old, and with

his creative fires undimmed. Among other works, he has no less than five premieres, two of which have been specially

commissioned for this Festival. Quatuor Diotima's recital contained two of his works; the fifth string quartet of 1955

and the oboe quartet of 2001.

The fifth quartet is in twelve short continuous movements: six ensemble movements interspersed with interludes

where individual players try out fragments from the ensembles. Complicated perhaps, and demanding stunning

virtuoso playing, which the Diotima certainly provided. It made exciting, if formidable, listening.

Nicholas Daniel was the soloist in the oboe quartet. Here Carter says he has attempted "every possible combination

of the four instruments". The results may not be very flattering for the oboe, but then, the whole thing is maybe just

a joke, and the great man was there in person to enjoy it.

Frank Cliff

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