Postcard from Paris The Edinburgh Quartet, Queen's Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
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The Edinburgh Quartet
Haydn, String Quartet Op 54 No 2; Debussy, String Quartet in G minor Op 10; Franck, Piano Quintet in F minor.
Tristan Gurney (violin), Gordon Bragg (violin), Jessica Beeston (viola), Mark Bailey (cello), Simon Callaghan (piano).
Running time

They called it Postcard from Paris. Whilst César Franck studied at the Paris Conservatoire from 1837 and Claude Debussy spent eleven years there from 1873 - and both made Paris their home for the rest of their lives - Tristan Gurney told us they struggled slightly to justify Haydn's link to that city.

However, Tristan and his colleagues had just played the second of the Quartets of 1789 that Haydn had dedicated to a colleague who had set off the previous year to Paris carrying some of his compositions, in the hope of finding a publisher.

Whilst the Haydn Quartet is typically in four movements its second delves deep into a dirge whilst by the fourth we heard numerous surprises - and both Tristan and Gordon seemed to be egging one another on which added to the fun.

There's a world of difference one hundred years after Haydn's Quartet with Debussy's Opus 10 of 1893. Lively and light hearted and there's some humour since Debussy never produced an Opus 9 nor Opus 11. Memorable in the second movement was something of Franck's organ works and then Jessica Beeston's solo viola - to be heard again in the final movement.

Of the same era was César Franck's Quintet for Piano and Strings when Simon Callaghan added the piano to the four strings. Simon, who now teaches piano in Winchester and at Harrow and performs widely, was a pupil of Yonty Solomon at the Royal College of Music.

We don't often hear Quintets and Franck's was remarkably balanced between the five players. Indeed rarely was the piano given pride of place. An interesting composition and I, for one, am the wiser from hearing this performance in the Queen's Hall. The Edinburgh Quartet's repertoire is admirable.

Concert: Monday 17th November 2014 at 7.30pm