Music for an English Country House
Jubilee String Quartet
This King’s Lynn Festival event at Sandringham’s Park Houseouse was heavenly music and all the more so for defying both composers’ reputations for fairweather grace. The playing was passionate and intense and both quartets gave ample material to express this. In Haydn’s consummate late G major quartet, the signature avuncular humour, ease and beguiling folk melodies were present and welcome but the old master pioneers a personal expressiveness that would have taught the young pretender more than he ever managed to do as Beethoven’s tutor. The themes are strong and the quiet warmth achieved at the end of the slow movement is won from strenuous effort, conveyed in virtuosic performances. Mendelsohn’s String Quartet in F minor was a furious meditation on disillusionment and grief in which the composer’s familiar calm, effervescence and tenderness – where present – are contextualised in stark contrast with dissonances and savage syncopations, full of menace and anxiety. We wait for consolations in vain. The energy and power of the playing, like the music, never falters and somehow combines savagery with poise, four instruments in soaring unison. Music for an English country house haunted by sorrow and despair.
EDP Tuesday 22 July