Review: Schubert 1828 & Quatuor Diotima, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, June 17 & 18
PUBLISHED: 19:34 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:34 20 June 2019
In March 1828, by which time Schubert had made a significant reputation, though not much money, he organised a benefit concert consisting entirely of his music. The event was a great success and netted him a profit of 800 florins.
What better idea then, as tenor Mark Padmore explained in his introduction, than to recreate that event, nearly 200 years later?
The G major quartet, D887, stands comparison with the best and the Quatuor Diotima revealed the spacious grandeur of the opening movement from its whispering tremolandos to the stormy development.
The centrepiece in 1828 was the Eb piano trio which in 2019 opened the second half. The highly accomplished Trio Isimsiz had all the notes and more; delicious pianissimos, engaging rhythms and a work that can seem over long never did.
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Mark Padmore and horn player Richard Watkins joined pianist Roger Vignoles in a splendid rendering of Auf dem Strom that Schubert wrote specifically for his concert. Mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron was bright toned and engaging in two songs, one accompanied by the polished Chamber Choir of London. Roderick Williams was particularly impressive in Der Kreuzzug and the choir concluded a unique and moving evening with the beautifully crafted Schlachtgesang.
The following morning in a sunny Aldeburgh Church the Diotima quartet played two works somewhat outside the standard repertory. Szymanowski's opinion that his second quartet would 'sound very well', was amply confirmed, the first movement having a deliciously exotic flavour, enhanced by leader Yun-Peng Zhao's silky tone. The arresting scherzo with much use of pizzicato and glissando was full of energy and verve.
Thomas Larcher's fourth string quartet of 2015 is an intense work, tightly constructed and some passages are quite an assault on the ear. The slow movement is more contemplative and soothing and the piece will repay further hearings.
Schubert's G major quartet was excellently played, cellist Pierre Morlet producing some delightful touches in the deeply felt slow movement. The bustling scherzo was crisp and precise and there was an unflagging energy in the finale that brought both quartet and concert to a spirited conclusion.