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Deeply Involving

Emile de Roubaix and the Maraini Quartet
play Mozart, Szymanowski and Brahms,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Another talented ensemble emerges from the Royal Northern College of Music. The Maraini Quartet's performances for Derby Chamber Music [Multi-Faith Centre, University of Derby, UK, 8 December 2006] were striking for their unanimity and control of dynamics, and sheer vitality.

The musicians were joined by Emile de Roubaix for two string quintets, Mozart's G minor and Brahms' F major. In the Mozart their restraint in not going for out-and-out angst from the very first bar left the performance with plenty of room to grow, with compelling results, and the fragile warmth they brought to the third movement was all the more eloquent. The playing was not immaculate, with one or two glitches in the finale, and the occasional moment of slightly edgy intonation, but the emotional maturity of the performance was impressive.

By choosing fairly brisk speeds for the Brahms they ran the risk of merely skating over the surface of the music, but it was a risk they successfully avoided. The changes of mood in the second movement were adroitly handled (though it was a pity that page-turns made for longer gaps between the contrasted sections than was ideal), and the hushed ending was beautifully handled, while the players' lively sense of rhythm kept the finale splendidly on its toes.

In between, the Marainis played Szymanowski's First String Quartet, a fascinating document of the composer's changing musical landscape, moving on from the heady exoticism of works like the Third Symphony towards a more classical outlook. This performance had the measure of its magical sense of colour, with a deeply involving account of the second movement's melting lyricism, and command of the perky dance rhythms in the finale.

Copyright © 16 December 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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