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Kreutzer String Quartet at St Bartholomew-the-Great

The Kreutzer Quartet Peter Sheppard Skærved & Mihailo Trandafilovksi (violins) Morgan Goff (viola) and Neil Heyde (cello)

20 September 2007

Fairly recently reconstituted, this well known recording quartet, which has always specialised in contemporary music, has been enjoying a long term residency at Tate St Ives, with workshops, concerts etc etc in the gallery space.

This concert brought their recent work there to London, and it was immensely stimulating and enjoyable. Framed by classics of the 20th C, the items were introduced by Peter Sheppard Skaeverd who pointed out that the Lutoslawski, an established modern classic of over forty years ago, has no score, which disconcerted the original players. Performances rely upon visible signals amongst the players, the opposite of the usual discreet manner in which ensemble is achieved; this gave an interesting new angle for listening to it live.

The novelties included duets as well as music for the full quartet. Three nicely contrasted short violin duos by the quartet's 2nd violinist will remain in my memory the longest (I am reminded that I had picked out Trandafilovksi as an up-coming composer at a Lontano at 30 concert). The Hammer Wings include stamping amongst various percussive attacks and Colours/Limits had an ethereal quality (listen to it and several other of Mihailo Trandafilovksi's compositions).

Mihailo Trandafilovksi with Neil Heyde (placed far apart in the nave) gave Gorton's new Passacaglia, a lengthy piece in which the two parts exchanged slow music with busy virtuosic figurations; Gorton remains for me a 'difficult' composer (q.v. our response to his Trajectories in January).

Easier to enjoy at first hearing was music by Paul Pellay and Michael Alec Rose, who was pleased to endorse his debt to Copland in Gas (Edward Hopper) - illustrated. A pity that some of the pictures which inspired compositions at this concert were not made available to listeners.

Just as Beethoven had provided the most 'modern' music (Grosse Fuge) at an earlier Kreutzer concert, tonight it was the eccentric Ole Bull (1810-1880) who represented the future in a very successful account of one of his pieces for violin and piano (arranged for string quartet by the Kreutzers' violist).

A splendid evening, patronised by only a score of cognoscenti, as is often the way with enterprise on the concert scene in London, which is spoilt for choice...

Peter Grahame Woolf

The Kreutzer Quartet has an appealing series of forthcoming events in London, beginning today with a lunchtime seminar at the Royal Academy of Music and an evening concert repeating several of the works reviewed above.

Mihailo Trandafilovksi's string quartet will be premiered at RAM 24 Novmenber, alongside a welcome revival of Jeremy Dale Roberts' Croquis.

For other concerts by the Kreutzer Quartet contact: ptrshpprdsskrvd@aol.com [Editor]