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Edinburgh Quartet, Glasgow University Concert Hall

The Edinburgh Quartet with John Kenny and Hugh Webb

Written by Conrad Wilson, The Herald

reproduced with permission

Music for trombone and string quartet is a bit like fusion food. You hope the contrast will work but the chances are it won't. Add a harp, however, and the flavour changes, bringing - as happened here - a shimmer of Ravel to what might otherwise have damaged your taste-buds.

Yet, even with the jovial John Kenny as trombonist and the gentle Hugh Webb as harpist, this contribution to Glasgow University's Musica Nova cycle was an experiment that seemed constantly on the brink of killing your appetite. By half-time, after the prolixity of Peter Swan's Prelude and Fandango, the self-communing computer obsessions of Andrian Pervazov's /dev/jam, and the three trombones of Etienne Rolin's Embracing the Unknown (in the composer's words, this was 'a way of saying yes to the challenge of life') had run their course, enough was already more than enough.

But at this point something happened. The Edinburgh Quartet played an actual string quartet, which needed no fancy title and no extra instruments to say what it wanted to say. Philippos Tsalahouris's Quartet No 2 (by a composer born in central Africa and raised in Athens) was terse and to the point, its slow movement richly atmospheric, its finale a dramatic sequence of false endings.

Thereafter, Corrado Saglietti's jazz-inflected Suite for trombone and string quartet breathed nostalgia for the great days of Italian cinema. Edward McGuire's Guest Sextet, already familiar in a different guise, was the witty and picturesque Scottish postlude, well worth waiting for.

copyright Conrad Wilson, published in The Herald, Glasgow (Newsquest Media Group)
reproduced with permission