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Ensemble

Declamatory Eloquence

Mendelssohn, Haydn and Shostakovich
from the Navarra Quartet,
heard by MIKE WHEELER

 

It's been good to watch the Mendelssohn bi-centenary blowing away some of the cobwebby preconceptions and clichés surrounding the composer's image. The Navarra Quartet gave his A minor String Quartet, Op 13, the kind of compelling performance that can only help the process (Derby Chamber Music, Multi-Faith Centre, Derby University, Derby, UK, 17 April 2009). Every note tingled with life, from a fiery, passionate reading of the first movement, through the group's remarkable poise and concentration at the start of the second movement fugue to the surging dramatic contrasts in the finale.

The engagingly fresh account of Haydn's Quartet Op 33 no 6 in D that began the evening was notable particularly for the way the group teased out the sly humour in the minuet.

In Shostakovich's Quartet No 9, the first movement was full of the kind of energy that was conscious of treading on eggshells. Moments of profound stillness in the second movement, were balanced against the skewed comedy and rather desperate high spirits of the third. The players, in turn, projected their solo passages in the fourth movement with declamatory eloquence, while the jagged energy they brought to the finale ensured a white-knuckle ride of tremendous exhilaration.

Above all it was the conviction with which the quartet handled the music's transitions that made this such an edge-of-the-seat experience.

Copyright © 25 April 2009 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK

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FELIX MENDELSSOHN

DERBY CHAMBER MUSIC

DERBY UNIVERSITY

DERBY

FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH

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