Shift of Perspective
The Stanford Quartet plays Mozart,
Shostakovich, Borodin and Piazzolla,
welcomed by MIKE WHEELER
The Stanford Quartet is yet another fast-rising ensemble with distinctive things to say about their chosen repertoire (Derby Chamber Music, Multi-Faith Centre, Derby University, Derby, UK, 4 December 2009). In Mozart's D major Quartet, K575, a combination of alert articulation and tonal warmth produced a reading marked, in particular, by a gracefully poised second movement and neatly dovetailed phrases in the minuet. Occasional slight intonation lapses did not spoil a fresh, enjoyable performance.
Shosatkovich's Sixth Quartet may be a more relaxed, genial work on the whole than some of his others, but even here there are some hard edges, which the players brought out without undue emphasis. It was a nicely shaped reading; the descent from the first movement's central climax, for example, was beautifully controlled. The playing captured a wryly quizzical tone in the second movement, and found inscrutable seriousness in the third, while the ending of the whole work was quietly thoughtful.
After the interval, first and second violins changed places for an account of Borodin's Quartet No 2 that offered a welcome shift of perspective on a work that can become over-sweet. With fairly brisk tempi and some splendidly gutsy bowing this was an altogether earthier performance than usual -- less Central Asian, more Russian, if you like. While there was no lack of warmth in the love-duet third movement it was kept taut and flowing.
The Quartet signed off with an exuberant performance of Piazzolla's Libertango.
Copyright © 14 December 2009