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Edinburgh Quartet,
Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh

Written by Conrad Wilson, The Herald

reproduced with permission

article | The Herald

Edinburgh Quartet
Star rating ****

With a third quartet pending, Robert Crawford's Quartet No 2, dating from half a century ago, made a timely reappearance this week in Edinburgh University's concert hall, where it shared a programme with a work by the hyperactive Ignace Pleyel, composer, piano-maker, publisher, pupil of Haydn and - perhaps his most valuable contribution to music - inventor of the miniature score.

But it was Crawford, a Scottish octogenarian of modest but keenly-crafted output, whose quartet commanded the closer attention. Essentially a study in gradual acceleration, its three movements proceeded from the slow, eloquent counterpoint of its opening adagio, in the course of which the instruments broke into contrasted pairs, through a light-footed intermezzo to a somewhat Brittenish finale, where a tantalising hint of The Turn of the Screw (a work dating from around the same time) seemed to haunt the music's restless rhythmic propulsion.

Lasting less than 20 minutes, the Edinburgh Quartet's performance was a model of succinctness, saying much in a minimum timespan. The Pleyel quartet, discovered in the substantial music library at Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire, had rather less to communicate, except for an atmospherically mysterious little minor-key section in its closing minuet, particularly welcome in a work otherwise stuck firmly in the glue of the key of A major.

Like the Crawford, however, it was deftly played, even if it did not create an appetite for the rest of this travelling composer's large output, whereas Crawford's next quartet, due to be unveiled this year, is an event to look forward to.

reproduced with permission.