Wonderfully atmospheric playing

Badke Quartet, Cratfield Church, August 8.

Sunday’s recital in the Concerts at Cratfield series saw a return visit by the Badke Quartet. Founded in 2002, the Badke can lay claim to being a well established ensemble in the tough world of chamber music, the reason why evident in their performance of three major works in the repertoire.

They began with late Haydn, his quartet Opus 76 No.2 in D Minor, the first movement taken at a brisk tempo, with plenty of energy and vigour, the charming andante piu tosto allegretto, principally a long melody for the first violin, elooquently played by Heather Hohmann.Overall, well characterised and intelligent playing of one of Haydn’s greatest quartets.

Performances of both Janacek’s quartets are common these days.Indeed, it seems de rigeur for young ensembles to demonstrate their mastery of the technical difficulties. The Badke’s performance of the second quartet,”Intimate Letters” was technically very accomplished, though not especially insightful until the third movement,whose alternating moods of hesitancy and passion were captured perfectly, as were the poignant melodies of the finale, Jon Thorne’s viola sounding particularly fine.

Their performance of the Ravel quartet, equally necessary nowadays, it would appear, was of a different order; one which captured all the subleties or this magical score with near perfect balance, superb ensemble, and wonderfully atmospheric playing.

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Frank Cliff

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