Sounds of the period

Amaryllis Quartet, Jubilee Hall, January 16IT was a welcome change to begin the season's lunchtime recitals with a programme of Baroque music on period instruments, and there was an equally welcome degree of innovation in the second recital given by the Amaryllis Quartet.

Amaryllis Quartet, Jubilee Hall, January 16

IT was a welcome change to begin the season's lunchtime recitals with a programme of Baroque music on period instruments, and there was an equally welcome degree of innovation in the second recital given by the Amaryllis Quartet.

The Amaryllis is a German-Swiss ensemble whose programming aims to contrast the classical repertoire with contemporary music, especially that of the second Viennese school, and they began their recital with Gyorgy Kurtag's officium Breve in memoriam Andreae Szervansky.

This is a work in which the influence of Anton Webern on Kurtag is very apparent, not least in the brevity of each of it's 15 movements, however not lasting much more than a minute or so. Each are highly contrasted, and explored to the full the possibilities of the string quartet with a seemingly infinite variety of sound. The Amaryllis' superb technique and sensitivity to every nuance of this complex score made what might be termed “difficult” music seem very accessible.


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There was plenty of fine virtuoso playing to admire in the second work, Beethoven's quartet opus 74, the Harp, notably the splendid coda to the first movement and the dynamic scherzo, though some of the variations in the last movement produced some wooden playing. Overall this was a performance with plenty of gloss if a reading which merely skimmed the surface.

Frank Cliff

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