north east scotland's festival of new music

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Alba Quartet, Aboyne Community Theatre

Written by Alan Cooper, The Herald

reproduced with permission

article | The Herald

Alba Quartet, Aboyne Community Theatre
Star rating: ****

A new work for string quartet by David Fennessy, commissioned by Enterprise Music Scotland, was the Strathdee Music Club's contribution to this year's Sound Festival. The Alba Quartet - fresh, young and brimming with vitality - was on stage and eager to give the premiere of "bow your head" (pronounce the first word as in "violin bow").

A fresh approach to bowing was at the very heart of this piece. I thought I had never heard anything quite like it - then I realised I had; the sound that Fennessy achieved reminded me of reverse recording. The surge of the bow stroke came at the opposite end from what is expected. The resultant disorientation produced music that sounded as if it came from a dream, mysterious, unearthly and full of subliminal voices - a brilliant but unsettling musical experience.

The Alba Quartet opened their recital with a rapier-sharp performance of Britten's Three Divertimenti for string quartet. Their playing underlined the adventurousness as well as the humour in this work. The two outer movements, especially, came across as brilliant pastiches of their styles.

Quartet No 7 by Shostakovich is a dark and enigmatic work from a composer used to keeping his feelings and ideas hidden deep within his music. The Alba Quartet made a good job of unravelling some of these, conveying the desperate urgency of the fugue in the first half of the finale or the deep sadness that pervades the central movement. Some problems with intonation did take the edge off the first movement of Ravel's Quartet in F major but judicious retuning soon pulled everything back into focus, resulting in a deliciously delicate and brittle performance.

reproduced by kind permission of Alan Cooper and The Herald.

events mentioned
  Date Day Time Location Event Details

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8Sat 7.30 pmAboyneAlba String Quartet