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The Endellion String Quartet 'to be congratulated on excellent series of performances'

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The Endellion String Quartet Picture: Eric Richmond
The Endellion String Quartet Picture: Eric Richmond

The Endellion String Quartet brought its current season at West Road Concert Hall to a conclusion on Wednesday (May 16) with an attractive programme of music by Haydn, Samuel Barber and Brahms.

Haydn’s String Quartet in B flat major known as the ‘Sunrise’ (a welcome appearance of the sun on an absolutely bleak May evening) began the concert, with the first violin providing the ascending theme of the first movement which lends the quartet its name.

A slow and deeply emotional adagio preceded a lively minuet, with typically Haydnesque pauses and hesitations and an interval with the viola and cello supplying a rustic background drone.

The finale dispelled the brief melancholy intrusions that had appeared at intervals in the second movement, its memorably pleasant tune swiftly gathering speed and hurtling to a joyful conclusion.

Samuel Barber’s String Quartet Op. 11 followed, in which the vigorous first movement gives way to the famous large scale molto adagio, later rescored by the composer for a full string orchestra and known as ‘Adagio for Strings’.

The Endellion Quartet performed this well-known work so as to capture perfectly not only the single melodic idea on which it is built, but also the movement’s singing quality which Barber, himself an accomplished singer, lent to the composition.

A vigorous recapitulation of the opening molto allegro, similar in its effect to the concluding movement of Chopin’s funeral sonata, supplies a brief coda to this moving central episode.

The final work performed was the String Quartet in C minor op 51 No.1, one of his few quartets Brahms allowed to be published, having spent years revising it and allegedly destroying many that he’d previously composed.

The earnest and impassioned melodic first movement, and the deeply reflective finale with its hurrying conclusion act as two symphonic frames to the more intimate second and third movements, the former with its somewhat dolorous effect, and the latter with its relentlessly steady pace.

It was the perfect ending to the evening’s music making, and to another hugely successful season of the Endellion Quartet’s Cambridge residency.

Quartet members Andrew Watkinson, Ralph de Souza, Garfield Jackson and David Waterman are to be congratulated for another consistently excellent series of performances, and audiences will no doubt be eagerly anticipating the Endellions’ 40th Anniversary season (2018-19), the programme for which is already available.

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