An account of Philip Burrin’s Farewell Concert on 22 March 2013


© marc marnie

Douglas Holligan, Edinburgh Quartet Friends Co-ordinator writes – A bitterly cold Friday night did not put me in the most welcoming or conducive frame of mind for a concert. Having said that, upon stepping into the physical and visual/artistic warmth of the very fine St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh’s Cowgate, I found my initial reluctance seeping away; moreover, it was completely dispelled by the playing of the rightly renowned and highly respected Edinburgh Quartet. It became evident from the first moments that we were to be in for a real treat – albeit in a refreshingly original format.

I had initially expected this to be something of a sombre occasion, given that the concert was held in honour of Philip Burrin – the Quartet’s much loved, long-serving second violinist. Pleasingly, such an atmosphere was not be, as the entire event, from beginning to end, was firmly but sociably conducted in a spirit of celebration, not mourning.

We were treated to a selection from Philip’s personal favourites: the first movement of Haydn’s Quartet, Op.76 No.2, the slow movement from Mendelssohn’s first string quartet, contrasting interestingly with the no less melodic and powerful slow movement from Elgar’s String Quartet, and finally rounding off with Beethoven’s early c minor Quartet, Op.18 No.4. These were interspersed with cheerful recounts of various incidents which have taken place over the years during public performances and, in particular, the lead up to these, including a musical bird, which responded in perfect answer to Beethoven’s question phrases on one occasion, and Philip’s performance of the Mendelssohn in Yehudi Menuhin’s front room!

Throughout the evening we were constantly aware of Philip’s exceptional and outstanding contribution to the Quartet’s activities over the years. Perhaps Philip’s most endearing quality that many so greatly admire and respect him for is his striking and engaging sense of being a true team player – in every sense of the phrase.

Afterwards there was an informal reception to which all of the audience was cordially invited. Many a good wish was exchanged and a variety of gifts were passed on. Philip will be greatly missed and fondly remembered for his genial manner, heartfelt playing and strong sense of team-focused support and encouragement. Philip leaves the Quartet with the very warmest wishes of Tristan, Jessica and Mark but also of the many listeners and regular supporters whom he has touched over the years with his playing and teaching. We wish him all a long and happy time in the next chapter of his career!