A recital by the Tippett Quartet,
heard by MIKE WHEELER
To find out why the Tippett Quartet is one of the UK's most exciting young chamber groups, you couldn't have done better than to come to their recital for Derby Chamber Music (Multi-Faith Centre, Derby University, Derby, UK, 18 April 2008).
In a piece of programming more artful than it might have seemed at first, they put together three quartets that all begin in a quietly but intensely exploratory frame of mind, then go off in completely different directions. All three received performances marked by both technical finesse, not least the quartet's immaculate ensemble, and poetry.
Schumann's A minor Quartet, Op 41 No 1 may not be one of the really great quartets but it is a thoroughly attractive work. The players captured its propulsive energy with panache and brought considerable intensity to its quieter moments, particularly the quiet passage towards the end of the fourth movement.
Bartók's Third Quartet got a reading of quite shattering energy and emotional intensity. The end of the first part was charged with expectation. Firmness and control kept the second part in touch with its dance roots, the players found an eerie calm in the recapitulation section, and by not going at the coda hammer-and-tongs they allowed the music's expressive nature to come across more effectively.
The quartet maintained a flowing tempo for the opening fugue of Beethoven's Op 131 Quartet, which emerged as more thoughtful than sorrowing. They enjoyed the music's lighter moments, setting a delightfully skipping pace in the second movement, and pointing up the humour in variation 4 of the fourth. If an element of strenuousness marked the performance occasionally, that was all to the good in music that must never be allowed to sound merely comfortable. The fifth movement had infectious energy, and amid the driving vigour of the last movement the players, again, found time to explore the music's more lyrical spaces.
Copyright © 28 April 2008
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK