Image by Viktor Erik Emmanuel, via Piatti Quartet website
Last night’s concert by the Piatti String Quartet presented a very well chosen programme of music from the early 19th to early 21st centuries, from Beethoven to Mark Anthony Turnage, via Dvorak.
Sensibly the quartet chose to start their programme with the Turnage ( while our ears were still open for the degustation of a new hors d’oeuvre ) a composer whose music they are very familiar with, having recorded all his quartets, and his 4th Quartet shows how skilled he is writing for a medium which has so many illustrious precedents. Of course unfamiliar music like this really needs repeated hearings to grasp its essence, but by turns wistful, lyrical and dramatic, the quartet introduced us to it with sensitivity as well as aplomb. Whether it will become a classic? Who knows, but don’t forget the protesters at the premiere of the Right of Spring!
Having recovered from the “shock of the new” ( not really !) they rolled out Dvorak ( the American Quartet) in all his familiar raiment, glorious melodic writing, in which quartet players revel, being able to indulge such affectionate music with warmth of sound and that curiously Slavonic wistfulness of which Dvorak was a master. Who doesn’t love Dvorak’s chamber music? The Piattis ticked all the boxes, with Jessie Ann Richardson’ glorious cello solos a particular joy - but I would say that - she is an ex pupil of mine!
Finally the master himself, Ludwig, and again the first movement of Op 59 No 1 kicking off with the memorable cello solo that gets the ball rolling in this monumental work. How extraordinary it is that, in spite of the evolution of classical music in the 200 or so years since this was written, this music still sits at the apex of string quartet writing, The Piattis revelled in the grandeur, nobility, tenderness and energy of this music, bringing their finest playing of the evening to a climax. The meal was brought to a most satisfactory conclusion, satisfying all appetites, and leaving us in no doubt that the experience of hearing a live quartet such as the Piattis, playing such glorious masterpieces, is, even in this age of multiple exposure to recorded music, not to be missed.
Review by Moray Welsh: cellist & painter
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