City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Quartet Rush Hour Concert, St Andrew's and St George's West, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 09 October 2014

Edinburgh Quartet Oct 14.jpg
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Edinburgh Quartet
J S Bach, Three movements from The Art of Fugue BWV 1080; Mendelssohn, String Quartet in D op 44 no 1.
Tristan Gurney (violin), Gordon Bragg (violin), Catherine Marwood (viola), Mark Bailey (cello).
Running time: 

In his introductory remarks Tristan Gurney told us that they had not played the first piece before. Because the Edinburgh Quartet is so well established and so good at its wide range one's immediate thought was this because it was hardly worth playing. But not at all - Tristan had immediately captured our attention which is why his opening comments make such a difference.

The Art of Fugue was J S Bach's final work and whereas we associate the fugue most often nowadays with the organ it could also have been, at the time it was composed, for other keyboards - except that it was written in open score. This has allowed the fourteen fugues, all based on the one theme, to be more than suitable for a string quartet.

We heard three of the fourteen, Contrapunctus 1, Contrapunctus 9 and Contrapunctus 11 - so at the start we heard the theme they each developed. In each of the three it was the second violin making the start. Both the first violin and cellist were really enjoying themselves in the second of the three judging by how their feet were banging away although to no detriment of the music.

Mendelssohn wrote three string quartets, the first two as a teenager. We heard the third - his grown up and more sophisticated composition. The final of the four movements was memorable as it started fast, slowed and then gave us a thrilling ending. An enjoyable late afternoon concert.