Heath Quartet at Wigmore Hall

String Quartet in G, K387
String Quartet in E minor, Op.59/2 (Razumovsky)

Heath Quartet [Oliver Heath & Rebecca Eves (violins), Gary Pomeroy (viola) & Christopher Murray (cello)]

Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood

Reviewed: 3 November, 2009
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

The Heath Quartet is a promising ensemble currently operating under the auspices of the Young Concert Artist’s Trust. The group won second prize in this year’s Haydn International Competition in Vienna.

The Heath Quartet began this attractive Wigmore Hall lunchtime recital with the first of Mozart’s quartets dedicated to Haydn, and enjoyed the chromatic interplay between the instruments that is a characteristic of the composer’s melodic writing throughout the piece. This was a fresh account, though some of the first movement phrasing was a little difficult to follow given the melodies wound around each other. This was not the case in the Minuet, however, where the light syncopations of the theme were highlighted effectively. After a relatively broad and lyrical slow movement, there was a real zip to the finale, its scurrying violin figure and incisive fugal subject completing an engrossing performance.

The Beethoven started with drama, the massive two chords of the opening given considerable heft, emphasised by the following soft dynamic. The spacious phrasing given to the second movement themes was offset by a slightly constricted sound, though here the players did well to concentrate when the same mobile-phone rang twice, along with several loud coughs and other extraneous noises!

With the slow movement safely negotiated, the Heath Quartet applied real urgency to the scherzo and finale, propelled by the leader’s darting violin figures. The scherzo became a series of quick dances, lightly punctuated, while the accompaniment to the finale was a brisk quickstep, the staccato lively and crisp in ensemble passages. The interplay of Beethoven’s short three- and four-note phrases was also well defined and characterised.

The overall impression was that the Heath Quartet is very much a single unit, playing and communicating with notable enthusiasm. Technically the musicians are extremely able, and the signs are that their interpretations of Classical repertoire are blossoming.

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