Editor: Marc Bridle
Len Mullenger: Len@musicweb-international.com
S&H Recital review
Bartok, Schubert, Haydn,
Endellion Quartet (Andrew Watkinson vn; Ralph de Souza vn; Garfield
Jackson va; David Waterman vc). Wigmore Hall, 7.30pm, 30 January
From a top-notch ensemble who have won awards for their
Haydn quartets, the Endellion's performance of Op 54 No 2 (admittedly
not one of Haydn's most inspirational quartets) was remarkably earthbound.
They made a good start, taking the opening Vivace at quite a
lick, and Andrew Watkinson tackled the athletic first violin
line with bright, sparkling tone, precision and fluidity, while ensemble
was excellent. I felt he could have made more of the rhapsodic gypsy
flights of the Adagio; here, as in the following Minuet, tuning
was occasionally sour. Nor did the unusual Adagio finale - done
pretty prosaically, do much to raise the pulse rate.
The group settled down in Schubert's Rosamunde Quartet,
wonderfully conveying its bittersweet, yearning tone despite occasional
imprecise ensemble and some intermittent weakness in first violin tone.
The Andante was a model of poise and grace, with some beautifully
fluid legato from Watkinson and a thrillingly exciting moment
of turbulence before the reprise. A blithely innocent Trio, contrasting
with the fatalistic Minuet, and a crisp, authentically rustic finale
rounded the work off well.
Having redeemed themselves in Schubert, the players
really hit their stride in Bartok's Fourth Quartet, a vehement, unfettered
work saturated with the Hungarian folk spirit glimpsed in the first
slow movement of the Haydn. In the serene night music at the work's
centre David Waterman was eloquent in the cello's improvisatory solo
- his big opportunity to take the limelight - and the jazz-like accompanying
voices were suitably sensuous. Much visceral excitement was provided
by the unpredictable Allegretto pizzicato, whose colourful 'snap'
and glissando pizzicatos (among other effects) were perfectly
timed. In this work more than the others the Endellions really seemed
to be enjoying themselves. A punchy Allegro molto made a charismatic
and arresting end to an evening which began routinely but got steadily
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