Birmingham Chamber Music Society’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations begin now. Throughout the past 60 years we have been privileged to hear some splendid gems from this most precious concert promoter. Many young unsung performers have been given a start in their careers with the generous opportunity to play as part of professional recitals. Many new works have also been given an airing; mind-teasing for loyal audiences.
A thought-provoking mixed programme by the Maggini Quartet was of interest, starting with Haydn’s Op 54 quartet, initially needing to settle into more coherent balance, but eventually charming with rich cello tones in the trio. A lively finale delighted with unexpected twists and turns; typical spirited Haydn.
Frank Bridge’s Quartet No 4 was of sterner stuff.
Influenced by Berg, this kaleidoscope of emotions gave everyone impassioned solo passages, fragmented phrases, weird teasing fragments. A rarely heard work performed with conviction and skill.
Urgent shimmering Mendelssohn came as a much more accessible relief, although Quartet No 6 in F Minor is not obviously characteristic, completed shortly before the composer’s death in 1847. Sensitive playing from all accentuated his mood of despair through contrasting themes. A short brilliant scherzo (Opus 44 no 2) thankfully lightened hearts as a sparkling encore.
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