Concert 2. Wednesday 13th November 2013 8pm Print

 

ESCHER STRING QUARTET  

 

PROGRAMME

Bridge Phantasie Quartet in F minor
Britten Quartet no. 3 op. 94
Elgar Quartet in E minor op.83

 

 

 

Within months of its formation in 2005,
the Escher Quartet was invited by both
Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman to
be the quartet-in-residence at their
summer festivals. Appointed BBC New
Generation Artists in 2010-12, they
continue to play at prestigious venues and
festivals around the world.
The short Bridge Quartet, a single
movement in three sections, starts with a
vigorous march, followed by a lovely slow
section, and a jolly finale. Britten’s last
quartet (1975) was the composer’s
swansong. It ends with the famous
Passacaglia finale – now to be viewed as a
farewell to life. Elgar’s quartet was written
in the aftermath of WW1 along with the
violin sonata, piano quintet and cello
concerto. Nostalgia for times past and the
horror of war pervade this quartet. The
outer movements are restlessly beautiful
and the central movement marked
piacevole (pleasing) tells of innocent
delights.
“…total focus, unflagging energy, bottomless
technique and, perhaps most important, rare
musical insight and a profound level of cohesion.”
DENVER POST

Within months of its formation in 2005,the Escher

Quartet was invited by both Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman to be the quartet-in-residence at their summer festivals. Appointed BBC New Generation Artists in 2010-12, they continue to play at prestigious venues and festivals around the world.

 

The short Bridge Quartet, a single movement in three sections, starts with a vigorous march, followed by a lovely slow section, and a jolly finale. Britten’s lastquartet (1975) was the composer’s swansong. It ends with the famous Passacaglia finale – now to be viewed as a farewell to life. Elgar’s quartet was written in the aftermath of WW1 along with the violin sonata, piano quintet and cello concerto. Nostalgia for times past and the horror of war pervade this quartet. The outer movements are restlessly beautiful and the central movement marked piacevole (pleasing) tells of innocent delights.

 

…total focus, unflagging energy, bottomless technique and, perhaps most important, rare musical insight and a profound level of cohesion.

DENVER POST

 

 

 

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CONCERT REVIEW

 

Over Here and Overwhelming at the Ilkley Concert Club

 

We've experienced so many superb young chamber music groups in Ilkley, but the visit from this American quartet rated extra-special. They have total technical command that is allied to acutely sensitive musicianship; their response to the varying demands of their programme was intense and imaginative. And what a programme, nothing 'safe' in the all-English twentieth century music they chose to play. We live in a global world and it is no longer true (if ever it was) that only those from Albion can fully get under the skin of 'our' music.

 

They began with an ideal opener, the short Phantasy Quartet by Frank Bridge. This immediately revealed their strengths, the subtle use of a wide dynamic range, the empathetic internal balance and their decisive approach colourfully projecting every nuance of this characterful music.

 

In contrast to these relatively mellifluous sounds came three of Harrison Birtwistle's Nine Pieces for String Quartet. They had been carefully chosen to show their expressive range, from in-your-face aggression to remote uneasy calm. These qualities were fearlessly presented with superb control and commitment.

 

The Elgar Quartet is perhaps over-shadowed by his grander Piano Quintet but the Escher's eloquent performance did much to restore its true position in the hierarchy. This is sometimes wistful music that hints at greater profundity than its surface charm suggests and the players caught the duality with full understanding of its Elgarian spirit.

 

The evening's highlight was the Britten Third Quartet. The extraordinary febrile glow of the first movement was well caught and the two sardonic scherzos were colourfully despatched. Between them comes a slow movement that is dangerously 'simple' giving the players nowhere to hide. It was ravishingly done. In this Britten centenary year the last movement has special significance, written in the shadow of his impending death. This is music that I find almost unbearably moving, especially in a performance such as was given tonight and I know I was not the only audience member in tears by the end.

G.K.

 

 

The following recordings were recommended in the programme 

 

Bridge

This work does not seem to have been recorded very often, but the eminent Maggini Quartet have included it on a well-recorded disc with other short works by Frank Bridge. The Naxos CD is at upper-budget price with the number 8.553718.

 

The Maggini Quartet have also recorded the other works in tonight's concert, in excellent performances with good sound. The Britten is on Naxos 8.554360 coupled with the Simple Symphony, Quartettino and Alla Marcia, whilst the Elgar is on 8.553737 coupled with the composer's Piano Quintet with Peter Donohoe. Both discs are at upper-budget price.

 

Britten

An excellent alternative is provided by the Belcea Quartet on a budget-priced 2 disc set containing the 3 Quartets and 3 Divertimenti – Warner/EMI 2.28518 2. It is worth noting that the Takács Quartet have recorded all 3 Quartets on 1 full-price disc which will be available in November – Hyperion CDA68004.

 

Elgar

Another Hyperion full-price disc, CDA67857, has excellent performances of the String Quartet and Piano Quintet with the Goldner Quartet in very good sound. Piers Lane is the pianist in the Piano Quintet, and the disc was a "Gramophone" editor's choice.

 

Raymond Waud.

 

CLUB NOTES

  

THANKS FOR THE CELEBRATION CONCERT — from David Pyett

It is, of course, impossible to find words to properly express my gratitude to everyone for helping to make the concert such a success. Not only for the audience, but also for those extra arrangements for me and my family, which were able to make the evening so very special. At the beginning I wasn't sure how much I should be able to 'enjoy' it with Margaret not being there. However, I had one of the best evenings of my life and I shall forever be in everyone's debt for making this possible. Arthur's 'Tarka' was wonderful - atmospheric and with the animals almost 'portrayed' and Bubu, the arctic owl ever-present in the background. This was a never to be forgotten real highlight in my life. The Copland provided a perfect contrast and was well worth waiting many years to hear it in the King's Hall! I was truly humbled by all that had been done - it was so much more than 'special'.

 

and REMEMBERING MARGARET'S CONTRIBUTION

The work forIlkley Concert Club, where she was Booking Secretary for over 30 years, was animportant part of her life. An example of this was that, following an emergencyoperation on her aorta in Leeds General Infirmary, Margaret's commitment wassuch that I had to regularly take all the booking forms down to Leeds andspread them all over the bed so that she could allocate the seatingpositions!In the little booth at the Winter Garden entrance she was often the first contact with the club. So many people have written and referred to the smiling face and welcome which they received – whether as members or 'just' single ticket attendances. Her knowledge of who must sit next to who (or equally who had to kept well apart) was another example of the very personal interest which was an important part of our club's success.

 

CELEBRATION CONCERT HELPERS — from David Wharmby

As well the Committee, many other people help at all our concerts: Sellers of Coffee Tickets & Programmes, Servers of Coffee & Tea, Helpers at the Box Office and at the CD stall, those who provide Hospitality to the Artists before and after the concert. Everyone did a wonderful job at our very busy Celebration Concert, particularly in welcoming our honoured Guests, looking after them at the interval and after the concert. Thank you all. And thanks to the warm and generous audience for your enthusiastic support.