The Piatti Quartet interrupted an extended tour of Ireland and Scotland to re-visit Richmond last Saturday. Today, Monday, after that lengthy diversion, the group is north of the border again, performing on the Isle of Skye.
19 concerts, 23 days away from home... Professional musicians do work hard.
The Piattis opened with a Haydn work (Op. 20, No. 2) which while not the full Sturm und Drang was perhaps more astringent than the famously cheerful composer's more familiar output. A pleasure to listen to. Next came the new work of the evening, Joseph Phibbs's String Quartet No. 1. Audience reaction during the interval was pretty consistent: "Some moments of English pastoral beauty, and some thrilling sections"; "A bit of a Curate's Egg, but essentially good". A success, then.
After the interval came Beethoven's 'late quartet' Op. 130, with the enormous Grosse Fuge finale, longer than all the other five movements together. (Is it a success, or does it unbalance the work? Discuss.) The demands made on the musicians are astonishing, but the Piattis' unflagging energy and skill were admirable, and they still looked fired up after the marathon performance. No encore, understandably, but loud applause from an enthusiastic audience.
Many thanks to the Piatti Quartet. They diverted, and we were enjoyably diverted.
Our member, the novelist Peter Robinson, has now appeared on Radio 3's Private Passions programme. (If you think you've read that before, you're right, but the BBC delayed the originally-planned broadcast.) Peter's novels are set in a fictional town which is loosely modelled on Richmond, with its Swaledale hinterland. Here's what the BBC has to say:
'Crime-writer Peter Robinson tops the best-seller lists year after year, across the world; in fact his detective, DI Banks, is probably even better known than he is. DI Banks is a straight-talking Yorkshireman with dodgy dress sense and a frustrated love life, and he's been solving murders in Yorkshire for some twenty years now. There are now twenty-three Banks novels, and several series on television with Stephen Tompkinson in the title role. So DI Banks is hugely popular, and central to his character is that he constantly listens to music - in the car, at home, in pubs. There's a memorable line where Robinson says of his detective - "He did his best thinking when he was listening to music and drinking wine." This, Robinson reveals, is autobiographical.'
'In Private Passions, Peter Robinson talks to Michael Berkeley about how music inspires his best thinking and writing, and why he's on a mission to get all his readers listening to the music he loves. He even creates online playlists of the music his detective listens to - including some of the music he chooses in Private Passions. Choices include Poulenc's Sextet for Piano and Wind, Beethoven's String Quartet in C sharp minor, Takemitsu, Miles Davis, and one of Schubert's last piano sonatas. Perhaps it's no surprise that he's drawn to last works - as a crime writer, his books begin with murder. Robinson confesses though that he regrets the increasing violence of the genre, and thinks the TV adaptations of his work go too far. And he reveals why Yorkshire is always the best place to hide a body.'
Peter's latest novel, When the Music's Over, is available at Castle Hill Bookshop in Richmond (and at thousands of other bookshops).
Click here to listen to Private Passions (until 10 March).
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