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Beethoven & Ravel

Beethoven String Quartet in F minor Op. 95 ‘Serioso’
Ravel String Quartet in F

Barbirolli Quartet

Wigmore Hall 11 May 2009

The Barbirolli Quartet reinforced their reputation at a Wigmore Hall concert 11 May. The contrast between their full, forceful tone for the brusque beginning of Op 95 and the melting beauty of the alternate lyrical phrases of bars 21, 51 etc was striking and memorable. With Rakhi Singh leading (does she still swap desks as Vln 1 with Katie Stillman, I hope?) their playing in general was irresistible and superbly balanced. These are players who really listen to each other.

Ravel's Quartet seems to bring out the best from experienced groups (Signum Quartet, Audience Prizewinners at the London Competition recently) - both however might be accused of "loving the slow movement to death" (as our competition reviewer wrote) just a little over-indulgently?

At the interval some of us agreed in wanting "more string quartet" but it was not to be. This PLG concert was shared with Alissa Firsova, a once admired young pianist, but on this occasion her Beethoven and Rachmaninoff were not up to reviewing standard. Nor alas was Simone Dinnerstein, a much-hyped American pianist, in an embarrassing recital the next night...*
(She may just have been having a bad night, since her Goldberg variations in 2007 was well received.)

Peter Grahame Woolf

* Comment: Regrettably SD murdered the Schubert. Not only were there mistakes galore in the last Impromptu but every phrase seemed stretched out and there were undue emphases given throughout the piece. - - I was thinking of leaving but I'd paid £20 for the ticket. The second half wasn't much better and of the Beethoven Sonata... the least said , the better. [IK]