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50th Anniversary Concert

Written by Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman

reproduced with permission

Article | The Scotsman

50th Anniversary Concert
Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

THE Edinburgh Quartet's 50th Anniversary Gala Concert celebrated all that the long-serving ensemble stands for – commitment to the core repertoire; the encouragement of new repertoire; collaboration at the highest level; and the active encouragement of young artists.

Haydn's late G major Quartet (one of his best-known) satisfied the first of these, and a performance that appeared to be hard work in the cold acoustics of the Queen's Hall (this is not the most forgiving venue for string ensembles), nonetheless captured the happy assuredness of Haydn's mature style.

Howard Blake's Spieltrieb – especially commissioned for the occasion – is, by the composer's own admission, a free-flowing stream of consciousness, characterised by gentle melody, and linked as improvised narrative. Not all its good ideas get fully developed, giving it the feel of a work in progress.

In contrast, the highlight of the night – a mesmerising performance of Vaughan Williams' song cycle for tenor, string quartet and piano, On Wenlock Edge – reaffirmed it as an enchanting masterpiece. The pure but powerful tenor voice of Andrew Staples, and the super-sensitive pianism of Terence Allbright, seemed to draw an extra-special lustre from the Quartet. Together, the mixed ensemble cut right to the core of the music, bringing its impressionist influences magically to the surface. For the exotic imagery of Bredon Hill alone, this was a sheer delight.

The young Medlock Quartet – students of the Royal Northern College of Music – made up the numbers for Mendelssohn's Octet, which brought this deserved, and well-attended, celebration to a popular close.

reproduced with permission.