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Edinburgh Quartet,
Hopetoun House

Written by Conrad Wilson, The Herald

reproduced with permission

article | The Herald

Edinburgh Quartet
Star rating ****

Mendelssohn's two string quintets, like Mozart's set of six, feature a pair of violas in the middle of the ensemble rather than the darker-toned extra cello famously preferred by Schubert. Yet, unlike these other masterpieces, they remain concert-hall rarities, and apparently unloved ones at that.

So it was to the Edinburgh Quartet's credit, and that of their gifted guest violist Jessica Beeston, that the first of them, Op 18 in A major, formed the climax of Sunday's summer concert at Hopetoun House, transfixing, or so it seemed, a large audience undaunted by the rain pouring ceaselessly down the windows of the Adam ballroom.

Presented with passionate perception, the slow movement - one of Mendelssohn's characteristically searching interpretations of the word intermezzo - gripped the attention. Nor were the other movements merely svelte. Here was music laced with the woodland shadows of A Midsummer Night's Dream, keenly evoked in a performance with two Beestons (Jessica and her father Michael, the ensemble's resident violist) at its heart.

Earlier, en route to this work, there had been thoroughly appropriate accounts of Mozart (the spirited Hunt Quartet, K458) and Beethoven (the gruff C minor Quartet, Op 18, No 4) both given high profile performances in which the players, and the ballroom's acoustics, were heard at their best. With increased drawing power, and an ever-extending repertoire, the Edinburgh Quartet have entered, in their 50th year, what looks like a promising new phase in their progress.

reproduced with permission.