Windermere String Quartet –part of the Hammer Series Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

As part of the Hammer Baroque series of concerts the Windermere String Quartet played three string quartets by teenaged composers. The concert was called ‘Young Blood’ and featured Mozart, Arriaga and Schubert. The players of the Windermere String Quartet, Elizabeth Loewen Andrews & Michelle Odorico, violins, Anthony Rapoport, viola and cellist Laura Jones, were seated in the centre of the room with the near capacity audience circled around them. This gave the concert an air of being in a large living room, which is how these works would have been originally heard.
Mozart was 17 when he wrote a String Quartet in B flat (K172).

The members of Windermere Quartet, performing

This was composed when he was in Vienna following a trip to Italy. The Quartet begins with an Allegro Spirituoso that has an Italian flavour but it then moves on to owe more to Haydn. Mozart had not yet met Haydn but he had heard his music and its influence is evident in the lyricism of the second and third movements. The final movement is charming, nimble with an interesting conclusion.
Juan Crisostomo Arriaga was a Spanish Basque composer who was called the Spanish Mozart probably because they were both child prodigies who shared the same birthday – 50 years apart. Arriaga was invited to the Paris Conservatoire where he received much praise. It was here that he composed almost all his music because he tragically died just before his 20th birthday. His String Quartet No 1 in D minor is a truly lovely work which began with a lively allegro, moved on to a delicate adagio with nice cello interest. The menuetto was sweetly appealing and the Adagio was dark, dramatic and had the audience nodding and smiling in enjoyment.
After intermission came a 17 year old Franz Schubert. Although a prolific composer Schubert was not very popular during his lifetime possibly because he was not a virtuoso performer who could promote his compositions. His String Quartet in G minor begins with an Allegro marked con brio which is dramatic and insistent, moves to a well known andantino; then a minuetto with hints of Mozart and finally ends with a charming allegro. This work gave all four instruments an opportunity to shine and the players clearly enjoyed it, as did the audience. The next concert is Saturday, March 17th at ‘The Rock on Locke’.

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