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Wihan Quartet at Wigmore Hall & on DVD

Haydn String Quartet No 3 in C, 'Emperor', Op 76
Mendelssohn String Quartet No 4 in E minor, Op 44 No 2
Roxanna Panufnik Cavatina
Dvorák Quintet for Piano and Strings in A, Op 81

Wihan Quartet & Martin Kasik, piano

Wigmore Hall, London 26 June 2007

Haydn String Quartet No 3 in C, 'Emperor', Op 76
Dvorak Op 96 'American'
Schubert String Quintet D 956

Wihan Quartet & Jamie Walton (cello)

filmed at Rudolfinum Prague 1995)
- purchase from www.wihanquartet.com

In reliably good form, the Wihan's latest Wigmore appearance is hard to write about, because their style and technique are impeccable. They mostly devote themselves to standard works, and their recordings of them are recommendable.

There was one little novelty, Cavatina, a short piece by Roxanna Panufnik commissioned for the Cavatina Trust, which supports music for young people, intended to be used for outreach work within schools.

Roxanna Panufnik and I both first heard the Wihans in 1991 at the London International String Quartet Competition, when they became winners of both the First Prize and the Audience Prize.

Their programmes for the competition included a quartet by Sir Andrzej Panufnik, Roxanna's father. The new ‘Cavatina’ was composed as a‘signature tune’, designed to be easily recognised by young listeners, whilst a ‘Moravian Dance’ which follows is based upon a traditional Czech folk melody. This was serviceable but unremarkable in the conext of a Wigmore evening concert.

The concert as a whole was unexpectedly less involving than the Tippett Quartet's recital in the same hall a few days later.

Nor can we unreservedly recommend the Wihan's DVD (order enquiries by email) of a concert given in 2005 at Prague's Rudolfinum.

It has the same Haydn quartet as in this recital, the most popular of all Dvorak's quartets, and the Schubert cello Quintet D 956 in an uncompetitive version of one of the best loved works in the repertoire. The acoustic as recorded is excessivly dry and it does not match up to the best live experiences of the Wihans, e.g. in Blackheath November 2006.

Peter Grahame Woolf