Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Elgar, Alwyn & Brahms & Dodgson CD

Edward Elgar: String Quartet in E minor Op. 83
William Alwyn: String Quartet No. 3
Johannes Brahms: String Quintet in G Op. 111

Tippett String Quartet with Lawrence Power (viola)
John Mills, Jeremy Isaacs, Maxine Moore & Bozidar Vukotic

Wigmore Hall 29 Jun 2007

This was an exceptional chamber concert, the Tippett Quartet persuasive advocates for the three under-played works which made for a well balanced programme. They showed themselves fully the equals of the Wihans, heard earlier in the week in a well trodden selection of canonic favourites; this was by far the more involving evening.

Two years ago we had found ourselves disappointed by Alwyn's No 3 in a PLG Centenary Concert for Lambert, Rawsthorne and Alwyn, but emphatically not so tonight. He was an unrepentant romantic, but technically a very skilled and versatile composer. There is increasing interest in endeavouring to keep his name unforgotten, with a spate of Alwyn recordings; the most recent one of miscellaneous chamber music fronted by violinist Madeleine Mitchell [Naxos 8.570340].

The Tippett Quartet (formed in 1998) play with fire and unanimity and a splendidly blended collective sound. The Elgar is a gorgeous work, composed shortly before the cello concerto, characterised by a certain ambivalence, 'shifting between easy-going flow and a tense undercurrent' (Mike Wheeler), and was heard to great advantage on this occasion, converting an Elgar-sceptic with me...

I myself had not been an enthusiast for the late Brahms String Quintet, but this time found it thrilling in the Tippetts' full blooded account, enhanced by the contribution of Lawrence Power, described in the programme as having been the quartet's founding viola player.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Dodgson's String Quartets I - VII (1984-2002)
[Dutton CDLX 7182]

This CD, received after the recital, is highly recommendable. It represents Stephen Dodgson (b. 1924) composing with undiminished energy as he is into his 80s.

They find him still fully active and with a flair for the string quartet medium (his earlier quartets had been withdrawn and re-numbered Nos. Minus 1 to Minus 4), as well as continuing to compose for and guitar, harpsichord and clavichord (q.v. BCS_07.htm) with which he has long been associated.

The Tippett Quartet are excellent advocates for music which is well crafted and attractive to listen to, his aim being for "a fully integrated homogeneous quartet texture" and development which eschews modernism and avant-garde preoccupations (John Warrack).

No 6 is in five interlinked movements played continuously, ending with a Caccia, its coda accelerating in "a hunt to the kill". The 7th is a sequence of miniatures Cross Currents prompted by visual images of the movement of water.


P.S. You can listen on line to a lovely complete performance of Haydn Op 3 No 6 by clicking onto the Tippett Quartet's website http://www.tippettquartet.co.uk/



Credit: Jack Liebeck (Power); Olivia Hemingway (Tippett Quartet)