north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Edinburgh Quartet, Kings College Chapel, Aberdeen

Written by Alan Cooper, The Herald

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

article | The Herald

Star rating: *****

A goodly percentage of Sound Festival events are run in conjunction with regular Aberdeen concert promotions and on Tuesday, the Edinburgh Quartet were guests of University Music. A large predominantly-student audience cheered them to the rafters, especially after their first half performance of Haydn's Quartet in C Major Op.74 No.1 and William Sweeney's String Quartet No. 2.

Sweeney's Quartet was this concert's passport into the Sound Festival, having been composed in 2000, but at only ten minutes in duration it was perhaps stretching a point. Still, it proved a uniquely startling work.

Two contrasting ideas alternate and develop separately, the first a shivering will-'o'-the-wisp of a theme featuring icily skeletal harmonics, the second, darkly dramatic slow music using lower registers. The skeletal music suggested Celtic dance rhythms but gradually dissolved into a kind of chattering, while the second themes loomed darker and ever more threatening.

This piece certainly had a powerful impact on the student audience, or was it Haydn's Quartet they were cheering so lustily?

Here was playing that stood out in searing clarity. Sizzling motor-driven outer movements enclosed an andantino that plundered extraordinary depths of expression and a menuetto that boasted a joyful bouncing earthiness.

Contrasting with the brevity of Sweeney's Quartet, Beethoven's Quartet in F Major Op.59 No.1 was generous in both extent and the lavish diversity of its material. It opened with the cello which dominated much of the quartet but especially the adagio, where the hero of the hour was cellist Mark Bailey. He made his instrument resonate sublimely not just in bowed passages but every bit as strongly where Beethoven insists on pizzicato.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

reviewed event
  Date Day Time Location Event Details
2Tue 7.30 pmAberdeenEdinburgh Quartet