Technically demanding success

Endellion String Quartet, Ipswich Chamber Music, October 25Haydn, Janacek and Beethoven string quartets. What more could one ask? Well, Schubert as it turned out.

Endellion String Quartet, Ipswich Chamber Music, October 25

Haydn, Janacek and Beethoven string quartets. What more could one ask? Well, Schubert as it turned out. As cellist David Waterman elegantly pointed out, the audience was assured of emotional plenty but maybe in terms of actual minutes of music the original programme might be thought a little light and in strictly economic terms we perhaps deserved a little more. One might argue that strict economic terms have come in for rather a hammering recently but it was, nevertheless, nice to have an extra investment to the programme, Quartettsatz, to begin with.

Haydn's F major quartet op 50/5 is one of a set dedicated to King Wilhelm of Prussia and the cheerful opening Allegro shows Papa in his witty vein. The slow movement has earned the work its nickname The Dream but it seemed more of a Brown Study. The Menuetto and Finale were interesting and well played but one could not quite escape the feeling that this was second rather than first division Haydn.

Janacek's first quartet is based on a story of extra-marital love and is characterised by a recurring, obsessive motive and an all-pervading sense of passionate desperation. The players threw themselves wholeheartedly into the music, extracting the maximum intensity from the closing bars.

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Beethoven's E minor Razumovsky quartet is among his more taught compositions and the players caught the lean, sinewy lines of the opening Allegro successfully. The wonderful Adagio, surely equal to the equivalent movements of the late quartets, was given a magnificent performance, Andrew Watkinson's high triplets soaring into the starry Heavens that so inspired Beethoven. If the Allegretto initially seemed a trifle relaxed the choice of tempo was eventually fully justified. The technically demanding finale was less successful but the headlong rush of the closing bars elicited enthusiastic and deserved approval.

Gareth Jones

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