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(E) 1 out of 66
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Edinburgh Quartet (page 83)
Napier University's Resident Ensemble


Drams 0
Music Haydn: String Quartet in B minor (Op.33 No.1); Schubert: String Quartet in D minor 'Death and the maiden'
Venue St Giles Cathedral (Venue 187)
Address High Street, Royal Mile
Reviewer Pat Napier

In the first of a short series of recitals in St Giles Cathedral, the Edinburgh Quartet, Scotland's premier and "most travelled musical export", chose to begin it with two minor key quartets: the first one from Haydn's Opus 33 and the second, the Schubert quartet of 1824, which was built on an extract from his song Death and the maiden, composed seven years before. In essence, they suited the time (10.30pm) and the location (St Giles Cathedral) pefectly. There is a very special atmosphere in being in a sacred building at that time of night and to play such intimate, intense music there must have been an added attraction. Certainly, to hear it, was a pleasure.

However, there were one or two drawbacks. The intimate atmosphere was disrupted by the disadvantage of being in St Giles during the Festival, by the intrusion of the fireworks at the Tattoo, some outside noise and the less intrusive sound of the Cathedral bell. St Giles' acoustic is not of the best and a little tricky, depending on where you're seated. Finally, although the audience never knew it, the EQ had just become leaderless and were playing with a substitute First Violin, who fitted in as if she'd been there for a lot longer. So this concert was an especial delight.

Haydn always feels at his strongest in the quartet medium, expanding its possiblilities in innovative and unexpected ways and Op.33 No.1 was right in that mould. He shares a decidedly reflective, intellectual approach with Bach and both have written sublime music as a result. At the end of the second movement (Scherzando, Allegro) there was a gorgeous, soft duet and almost on cue, the Cathedral bell sounded!

The Schubert quartet was a much more emotional exploration of the medium. Throughout, the cello was a recurring focus of the varying aspects of life and death, particularly at the end of the first movement where it portrayed a great intensity and again during the third, the Beethovenian Scherzo. In the final movement, the violin featured as the demon fiddler, dramatic and menacing, to send us all out into the night contemplating death and the fear of it.
© Pat Napier. 29 August 2002. Published on EdinburghGuide.com

Run: August 20-23. St Giles 22:30hrs (1 hour)

(E) 1 out of 66
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