Proms at St Jude’s – Carducci String Quartet & Nicola Eimer [David Matthews World Premiere]

String Quartet in E flat, Op.33/2 (Joke)
David Matthews
String Quartet No.11, Op.108 [Commissioned by Proms at St Jude’s with support from Britten-Pears Foundation: world premiere]
Piano Quintet in E flat, Op.44

Carducci String Quartet [Matthew Denton & Michelle Fleming (violins), Eoin Schmidt-Martin (viola) & Emma Denton (cello)]

Nicola Eimer (piano)

Reviewed by: Kenneth Carter

Reviewed: 17 June, 2009
Venue: St-Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London

Carducci String QuartetHaydn’s ‘Joke’ String Quartet received a delightful outing. The Carducci Quartet, and Matthew Denton in particular, were keenly alert to Haydn’s coupling of disarming straightforwardness and roving wit and to the formal intellect that requires fastidious phrasing, together with the grave sensibility that displays profound, undemonstrative emotion.

David Matthews’s String Quartet No.11 comprises thirteen variations on the eighth of Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 119. The first eleven are short and apparently include a tango, mazurka and several scherzos; the twelfth is a long, sustained Cavatina which violins and viola play virtually in unison, undeterred by loud plucked, irregular interjections from the cello; the final variation is an extended fugue. The work as a whole proceeds deliberately from the style of late Beethoven towards Matthews’s own. Come the Cavatina a distinct mind and voice began to speak with arresting, confident sparseness, similarly the fugue.

Schumann’s Piano Quintet received a glorious, vital performance that resonated with tender, resilient strength. The Carducci Quartet and Nicola Eimer found their way unerringly to Schumann’s surging ardour. Emma Denton and Eoin Schmidt-Martin held sway assuredly in the first movement and Schmidt-Martin’s opening to the ‘In modo d’una marcia’ was haunting.

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