For our current main Edinburgh concert series (2003 – 2004), we decided to take a look at the decade the EDINBURGH QUARTET was founded. We paired usually-neglected masterpieces from the 1950s with Haydn’s six (also comparatively neglected) Quartets op. 50, finishing each programme with a major Romantic work. Critical response to this idea was enthusiastic from the outset:
“The Queens Hall [concerts] will be a celebration of the ensemble’s origins, emphasising the 1950s and some of the works heard at that time. […] Conspicuously present are Shostakovich’s Fifth Quartet, Matyas Seiber’s Third, and the second quartets of Edmund Rubbra, Robert Simpson, George Enescu, and Kenneth Leighton – the last of these, composed in 1957, predating that admirable composer’s appointment as Edinburgh’s Reid professor of music.”
– Conrad Wilson, The Herald, 15 October 2003
This approach – actively seking out lesser-known masterpieces from the mid-18th century onwards, while drawing on the EQ’s vast existing repertoire to achieve programme combinations that show all the works in the best possible light – will certainly continue into the future. Next year’s main series, for instance, will consist only of 19th-century music but will start with Haydn, finish with Schoenberg and feature many composers rarely associated with the quartet repertoire.
Further ahead, the ’05 – ’06 series will celebrate the major anniversaries of Mozart and Shostakovich in 2006 but, at least in Mozart’s case, concentrate on the works outside his canon of major string quartets.