Four young men from the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela make up its String Quartet. The Orchestra was created as part of El Sistema, Venezuela’s national system of youth and children’s orchestras.
In a sell out recital they started with Bach’s The Art of Fugue written in his final years and after he had reduced his ecclesiastical responsibilities in Leipzig. He worked on large scale musical projects and it is thought that this piece came at the end of this period and towards the end of his life.
The audience watched as the cellist was seated on a stool with the two violinists standing to his right and the viola player to his left. Often the first violin was on his own whilst the second violin’s score went along with the viola and cello.
Shostakovich composed music for fifteen string quartets. We heard the Eighth Quartet written over the course of three days in 1960 with five joined up movements. He was in Dresden where the wartime devastation was still very evident. It is dedicated ‘in memory of the victims of fascism and war’, and he was angry. Many consider it the best of his chamber music compositions.
Rodolfo Halffter’s Tiento No 5 is so called because it is named after a type of keyboard music from the Spanish Renaissance. It is a short piece with the spirit of fantasy and playfulness.
It was in Brahms’ String Quartet No 2 that the young Venezuelans really came into their own. They and their audience thoroughly enjoyed the four movements. Sometimes Brahms’ string quartets are severe; this one was tense and the Quartet wholeheartedly demonstrated it. The applause was tremendous and fitting - for this was the final morning concert of this year’s International Festival at The Queen’s Hall.
Event:: Saturday 4 September 11am.
Programme: Bach, Contrapunctus 1, The Art of Fugue; Shostakovich, String Quartet No 8 in C minor; Halffer, Tiento No 5; Brahms, String Quartet in A minor.