Youthful fire from Renaissance

Renaissance Quartet. Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, February20th/27th

Renaissance Quartet. Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, February20th/27th

This season's Aldeburgh lunchtime chamber concerts have offered a more varied musical diet than usual, ranging from period instrument performance to a generous helping of twentieth century music; all of which is good news.

The four young Romanian artists who comprise the Renaissance Quartet included a real rarity in the first of their two recitas; the suite Pe Arges in sus by the Romanian composer, Teodor Grigoriu. Now in his eighties, his substantial work in four movements dates from 1953. It derives its inspiration from Romanian folk music, and the Renaissance responded to the brilliant virtuoso writing with rich sound and sure technique. Hugely enjoyable, if somewhat repetitive.

They made the transition to the more refined sensibility of the Ravel quartet with ease. There was plenty of youthful fire and spontaneity in their playing if, as yet, not quite the subtlety of atmosphere required for a great performance.

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For their second recital, quartets by Smetana and Dvorak were well suited to their style, and there was much to admire in their vibrant reading of Smetana's first quartet, notably a brilliant scherzo, though the work's lyrical elements were marred by very fast tempi. These same problems, to an even greater degree, were present in Dvorak's American quartet, the slow movement losing most of its haunting melancholy when played at a speed closer to andante con moto than lento, and the scherzo and finale too frenetic to be exhilarating.

Frank Cliff

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