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Gig review: The Smith Quartet

Written by Neil Jones, The Scotsman

Reproduced by kind permission of the author

article | The Scotsman


IT WAS appropriate that North-east Scotland's contemporary music festival Sound should feature the work of Philip Glass as part of its minimalist-inspired opening weekend.

It was also appropriate that it should be the Smith Quartet who should bring Glass's five string quartets to impassioned life at Woodend Barn, as they are themselves exemplars of contemporary musicianship.

Their concert started with the No 3: "Mishima", from 1985. This is vintage Glass, with Ian Humphries and Darragh Morgan (violins), Nic Pendlebury (viola) and Deirdre Cooper (cello) creating luscious sounds, repetitive but always dynamic and interesting. The five movements have great variety, the second strong and fast while the third is richer and more introspective before surging to a bright, abrupt finish.

No 1 was written in 1966 and is very different; more discordant, less lyrical in a way that, despite it being over four decades old, is strangely avant garde. Despite its less complicated structure the Smith Quartet's delicacy of touch made the most of Glass's score.

The opening movement of No 4 with its pizzicato overlay of the other players' rich tapestry had a brisk tempo while the second movement had a more symphonic opening to be followed by a slower, more mysterious movement.

After the interval were No. 2 "Company", and Glass's most recent – two decades old – No. 5.

This was a unusual opportunity to hear all five quartets performed in one concert. And an unusual pleasure to have them performed so well.

This article has been reproduced by kind permission of the author.

relevant events
  Date Day Time Location Event Details
24Sun 2.00 pmBanchorySmith Quartet