Sunday afternoon’s recital, the first of Blyth Valley Chamber Music’s 2014 season, was dedicated to the memory of David Holmes, it’s founder, whose visionary zeal established Concerts at Cratfield as a major musical event.
Young string quartets have regularly featured in the programmes, and the choice of the Wu, one of the finest of the young quartets, proved an admirable one.
They chose a well-balanced programme: standard repertoire, with just a little of the unfamiliar, each work demanding great virtuosity.
First, a Haydn Quartet, Opus 50 No.4 in F sharp minor. For whatever reason it is a quartet which is seldom performed, yet it shows Haydn at his most mature, with writing which fully emancipates each instrument. The Wu gave it a warm and polished performance, beautifully balanced, with tempi admirably judged.
The quartet’s technical excellence and seemingly indefatigable energy proved highly effective in Tippett’s second quartet of 1942, the period of his most mature works, with shades of the Double Concerto for Strings, and they followed this with an exhilarating performance of Schubert’s Quartettsatz, fresh and inspired, and sounding, as a one movement work, better balanced without the repeat of the exposition.
Finally, a brilliant reading of Mendelssohn’s Quartet in D, Opus 44, No.1, Qian Wu tackling the bravura violin writing with faultless dexterity and the quartet’s indefatigable energy again permeating the performance.
Frank Cliff, EDP, 8th July