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Edinburgh Quartet, Stockbridge Church, Edinburgh

Written by Conrad Wilson, The Herald

reproduced with permission

THE music of Michael Tippett, in these treacherous years after his death, demands wholehearted commitment, and the members of the Edinburgh Quartet gave it to him last night. First, they found him an audience, no mean feat at the moment. Then they performed his Second Quartet with the intensity and clarity it needs if it is to stand out as the masterpiece it is.

Composed in the darkness of the Second World War, the work looks back into the far distance for its inspiration and discovers it in the rhythms of Elizabethan madrigals. Yet, as the players demonstrated, it is no piece of intellectual escapism. The stark fugue that forms the slow movement and the swing of the scherzo have powerful things to say - and in this performance they said them.

This was a concert that went well. Haydn is always a risk for nervous fingers, but the Sunrise quartet was played with beauty, fluency and real warmth of colour.

An even bigger risk was Beethoven's big C sharp minor Quartet, Op 131, that high and daunting peak of the late quartets. With another slow fugue to be traversed, the players faced the challenge they had set themselves, the new leader, Tristan Gurney, in consistent communion with the rest of the quartet as they tackled the tempo changes and mood swings of the seven movements. It was a gripping performance, full of firm, fierce musical gestures, exploring the inner recesses of the slow music and bringing high definition to the fast, robust finale.

  • published on 7 February 2008
  • written by Conrad Wilson, published in The Herald, Glasgow (Newsquest Media Group)

reproduced with permission.