String Quartet in F, Op.77/2 Wood
String Quartet No.5 (Persistence works) Beethoven
String Quartet in F, Op.135
Hugh Wood Fifth Quartet
Friday, July 12, 2002 Cheltenham Festival
Reviewed by Richard Whitehouse
The unavailability of the Takacs Quartet for this morning recital
brought The Lindsays in their stead, and an unexpected but welcome revival of Hugh Woods Fifth Quartet. In his pre-performance chat, the composer explained the subtitle, Persistence works, as a reference to the building of a new concert hall against the odds in Sheffield, where the quartet was premiered in October last year. It might also be felt to apply to Wood himself, on account of his tenacious and productive adherence to traditional forms over the course of his output.
After a compact but imposing sonata-type opening movement, the first of two scherzos pursues an oblique and capricious course its antecedents in Schoenberg and Bartók teasingly in evidence. The central Romanza is a flowing slow movement, markedly less weighty than the Adagio of his previous quartet, but not lacking in sustained emotion. The largely pizzicato second scherzo consolidated the connection with Bartóks Fourth Quartet, leading to a bracing rondo-finale, which counterbalances the first movement with duly symmetrical poise.
No doubt about the Lindsays commitment in reviving the latest instalment of Woods quartet odyssey deserving frequent performance in this, his 70th-birthday year. Surrounded by forthright and typically risqué accounts of Haydns Op.77/2 and Beethovens Op.135, and with the Cavatina from Op.130 as an encore (!), this added up to an engrossing and often inspiring concert.