Concert reviews 2019

REVIEW OF ENDELLION STRING QUARTET

30 June 2019

The sun was shining, the cakes were baked, the music lovers settled on their cushions and quiet descended in St Mary’s Church for the first of the 2019 ‘Concerts at Cratfield’.

The Endellion Quartet opened with Haydn Op.20 no.6, composed in 1772, and a delicate and calming work where the brief turns into a minor key were simple shadows rather than anything more disturbing. Would this work gain even more from a performance on period instruments which would have given perhaps greater clarity, agility, and finesse of sound?

This ongoing debate – period vs ‘ordinary’ instruments – has strong supporters in both camps and with this work I find myself leaning towards period-instrument performers such as the London Haydn Quartet. If only we could all remember our friends and bid farewell in the way Puccini did with Crisantemi

With the audience relaxed the Endellions launched into the heart of their programme – Janacek and Schubert.

Both works, Janacek’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ and Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’, make huge emotional demands on the performers. Cellist David Waterman explained that Janacek’s work is not in a traditional classical form but is rather a series of ‘clips’, a

mosaic rather than a continuous logical progression. So what holds it together? The literary references suggest suppressed, violent emotions which break out with disastrous results. A performance which can access this febrile state of mind will be deeply disturbing leaving one drained and unsettled. This is not a work to which one would turn for comfort or reassurance.

Schubert’s ‘Death the Maiden’ on the other hand takes us into those part of our minds and hearts which are beyond words and is everything we could ask of music. The last movement with its relentless drive over the undercurrent of the cello was quite wonderful, but the cost to the musicians was visible on the leader’s face. Thank you.

Candy Blackham