sound Festival: Glasgow String Quartet
The Monymusk Arts Trust
Sunday afternoon's concert, given by the Glasgow String Quartet for Monymusk Arts Trust was one of several events throughout the north-east where a local arts association has lent its support and facilities to the sound Festival. The aim of the festival, to promote the works of contemporary Scottish composers, was fulfilled on this occasion by placing Opus California (1999), by Sally Beamish at the heart of Sunday's programme.
Her composition was one of several for string quartets commissioned from young Scottish composers with the requirement that each should be linked to one of Beethoven's quartets. Sally Beamish shows the Quartet in C Minor Op18, No4 as the source of core material for her own quartet, and it was with this Beethoven quartet that the concert began.
Extrovert, energetic playing from the Glasgow Quartet suited Beethoven's quartet perfectly. It has no slow movements but rather two dance movements at its core, leading to a hard-driven finale. The stormy opening movement of Opus California picked up on the energy of Beethoven's quartet, giving it an almost jazzy slant.
Unlike the dance movements of the Beethoven, Sally Beamish's music achieved a kind of steely tranquillity in its second movement, while the title of the third, Dreams before Lullabies, was well chosen. In the final movement, she picked up again on the excitement of the Beethoven finale. This drew a splendidly intense and thrilling response from the performers.
To conclude their programme, Glasgow String Quartet gave a wonderfully luminous performance of Ravel's Quartet in F Major. I do not remember hearing it played better than this.