BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Recital at Wigmore Hall – Chiaroscuro Quartet – Joke & Rosamunde

String Quartet in E-flat, Op.33/2 (The Joke)
String Quartet in A-minor, D804 (Rosamunde)

Chiaroscuro Quartet [Alina Ibragimova & Pablo Hernán Benedí (violins), Emilie Hörnlund (viola) & Claire Thirion (cello)]

Reviewed by: Barnaby Page

Reviewed: 1 October, 2018
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Chiaroscuro QuartetPhotograph: Agnese BlaubardeThe last-minute withdrawal of Annelien Van Wauwe also meant the disappearance of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet from the Chiaroscuro Quartet’s Wigmore Hall concert. But there was nothing at all to disappoint in the programme that the Chiaroscuro members delivered: first (as advertised) concise, almost stylised Haydn, and then (Mozart’s replacement) a much more expansive Schubert.

Clarity and teamwork were on display from the first bars of the Haydn, focusing on the music at the smallest scale, often emphasising single notes. The second movement was suitably droll and there was plenty of theatrical fun with the Finale, making the most of those false halts with which Haydn fools us into thinking the piece is over.

For the Schubert the musicians favoured a completely different, smoother style: in the lengthy first movement (with exposition repeat), perhaps the highlight of the recital, they were determined to convey the architecture as much as individual phrases. Dynamics in the second movement were also particularly well-handled. There were a few dubious notes in the third but technical skill and musical unity were returned for an impressive Finale, even if it was inevitably a little of an anticlimax after that stupendous first.

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