Concert 2 - Wednesday 2 November 2016 at 8pm PDF Print E-mail

 COULL STRING QUARTET

Mozart  String Quartet in E flat major, K428   

"...a group, exceptionally

intelligent and responsive, 

which gives freshness to

any music it touches"  

GUARDIAN    

Dvorak  Cypresses (selection)  
Beethoven   String Quartet in B flat major, Op.130 with Grosse Fugue    

 

  

"exquisite string playing, technical poise and genuine spirituality"     SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER 

The Coull String Quartet is a magnificently seasoned ensemble that has been delighting audiences for over forty years. The group, which still includes two of its founder members, has broadcast and performed in concert halls extensively throughout Europe, the USA, Australia, China, India and the Far East.

 

Their programme for Ilkley starts with the third of Mozart's Quartets written in homage to Haydn – a set, 'the fruit of long and laborious effort' in which he is mastering the techniques of this new art form – and which won Haydn's applause. The culmination is the third of Beethoven's late quartets – the six movements of this sublime work show Beethoven pushing at the boundaries of what music can do – concluding with the original fugue. Between these masterpieces we can enjoy the simpler, lyrical pleasures of the youthful love songs which Dvořák later adapted for string quartet.

 

Concert Review

 

A evening of contrasts at the Ilkley Concert Club

 

The Coull String Quartet this year celebrate 40 years of playing together and their return to the King's Hall after 34 years was all the more welcome. The programme was well balanced, matching one of Mozart's 'Haydn' quartets with one of the peaks of the quartet repertoire, Beethoven's op 130 quartet with its original finale, the Grand Fugue. These two sandwiched four of the delightful miniatures that Dvořák adapted from his early songs and now known as 'Cypresses'.

 

After a slightly shaky start, the Coull Quartet featured some beautiful ensemble playing with each instrument finding its rightful place in the texture. At their best they produced wonderful dark tones in more sombre passages, with crisp articulation where needed particularly from the first violin. The second and third movements of Mozart's E flat major quartet demonstrated this contrast well, however the speed chosen for the finale led to one or two passages sounding rather rushed.

Dvořák's delightful and affecting melodies gave a lighter mood to the proceedings and were greeted warmly by the audience. I felt that a less perfect balance, with the vocal line, as played by the first violin, more prominent, might have suited this music better.

 

Beethoven's op 130 quartet is a challenge to any group of players and one that the Coull were well able to surmount. Overall this was a convincing performance but perhaps without some of the ecstatic highs and emotional depths that makes a really great one. The fourth movement was particularly fine with a nicely judged rustic lilt. However the tempo of the Cavatina felt too fast so that the broken phrases at its anguished heart failed to convince. There was plenty of vigour in the players attack on the final fugue and some beautiful pianos in the central section but I missed the revelation that can come when what an early critic called 'incomprehensible ... a sort of chinese puzzle' finally begins to make sense.

CJS

 

The following recordings were recommended in the Concert Programme

 

Mozart

The excellent Cuarteto Casals are well recorded on a fairly new Harmonia Mundi CD-HMC 902186 (full price). The couplings are Mozart's String Quartets K.387 and K.465. Recordings from the CRD company are readily available again, and with them the Chilingirian Quartet's performances of the late Mozart Quartets, always among my favourites. CRD 3363 (medium price) contains K.428 and K.458 "Hunt", and sound quality remains very good.

 

Dvorák

These charming pieces are beautifully performed , together with other Dvorák miscellaneous Chamber Music , by the Vlach Quartet Prague on Naxos 8.553375 (medium price). There is a superb bargain 3 CD set from Supraphon, with the Panocha Quartet, which includes the Cypresses, and String Quartets Op.51, 61, 105, 106. The number is SU 40482, and the set costs about the same as one full price CD.

 

Beethoven

A recent recording from the Elias Quartet, recorded live on 20th. February 2014, has particularly impressed me. Quartets Op.18 No.4, and Op.74 "Harp" complete the 2 disc set from Wigmore Hall Live-WHLIVE 0073-2 (medium price). The recording quality is very good indeed, and audience noise is almost entirely absent. A fantastic bargain from Sony/RCA 88875124582 has the superb Tokyo Quartet performing all the Beethoven Quartets in good sound. The 9 CD set is available for around £10!
Raymond Waud

 

Club Notes for this Concert 

 

THE PLEASURE OF OUR ARTISTS

 

At the interval I went downstairs as usual to let the artists know when the second half would start. Cellist Richard Jenkinson was in the corridor and said 'This is an amazing audience', me 'Do you mean large?', 'Of course, but so good to play for—very attentive.' As she was packing up her double bass at the end I gave Chi-Chi Nwanoku the ICC Concert poster showing her with the Frith Piano Quartet, and she said 'Thanks so much—you do have such an amazing audience'. What a delight it is to give the artists so much pleasure—they certainly enjoyed themselves, giving us huge pleasure in return.

 

PROGRAMME NOTES & REVIEWS

Over the last five years Geoffrey Kinder has written the Programme Notes for our concerts—if you attend concerts elsewhere, you will be aware of how exceptionally well written and well informed they are. Geoffrey earned his living in music education and his main musical activity is composing. He has broadcast the 'Classical Hour' for BCB Local Radio. On its website, with his characteristic impish humour he confesses he 'has no taste whatsoever, so he's able to enjoy all kinds of music from Beiderbecke to Birtwistle.' For David Pyett's Celebration Concert, Geoffrey and I (ICC Chairman) had the task of commissioning 'Tarka', Arthur Butterworth's lovely composition—a present to David for his remarkable contributions to ICC. Fortunately for me, Geoffrey had some idea of how to go about it! As well as the programme notes, the excellent Concert Reviews published in the Ilkley Gazette were written mostly by Geoffrey. Geoffrey and Pam have been coming to ICC for 17 Seasons and have now moved south to be near their family—we will miss them.

Our Concert Reviews are now written by Chris Skidmore who has moved to Skipton, following retirement: he joined ICC in 2013. Formerly a university biochemistry lecturer he is very knowledgeable about music, giving lectures on music appreciation. He is also now the person who writes our Brochure copy and publishes the new Season Brochure. Our Programme Notes are now written by Clive Lane who is a Judge, an amateur cellist and keen concert goer. Clive travels a lot and told me that writing programme notes fitted well with staying in hotels. We should thank them both for the excellent start that they have made so far on these tasks for our 71st Season.