Review: Emperor String Quartet, Plymouth University Sherwell Centre
Emperor String Quartet
Plymouth University Sherwell Centre
One performance only
WHEN the Emperor Quartet's programme was agreed, some months back, no-one realised then that the recital would be dedicated to the memory of Bryan Foster, whose generous financial support over many years had helped to bring the leading chamber-music artists to the city, and who had in fact sponsored this particular event.
One of Bryan's greatest loves was Haydn, so it seemed apt that the evening opened, in fact, with the composer's Lark Quartet.
Here was a poised and balanced performance that combined the lyricism of the opening with real virtuosity in the vivacious finale.
Cellist William Schofield's succinct but necessary few introductory words about Britten's precocious First Quartet helped to clarify the composer's intentions somewhat, in a work which is perhaps not one of Britten's more popular compositions.
Even if it's not uncommon to open with a Haydn quartet, the choice of the closing work did seem strangely prophetic.
Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet was written towards the end of his life, following a serious illness and prolonged hospital stay, and the whole work, even in its sunnier moments is still permeated by a fatal tone throughout.
The impassioned reading captured every nuance of the writing, and there could have been no finer tribute paid.