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Mahler Piano Quartet in A minor
Bloch Paysages
Beethoven String Quartet in Eb Op. 74 ‘Harp’
Bloch Piano Quintet No. 1

Goldner Quartet/Piers Lane

Wigmore Hall 20 April 2009

This was a very peculiar concert. It began with the first movement of the 16-yr-old Mahler's unfinished piano quartet (there is a fragment of a scherzo too...). It comes across as a single tune piece, worked so thoroughly that you'll never forget it; a piece to hear once - I had done so, long ago, and that's enough (another such is Grieg's posthumous Quartet Movement in F).

Bloch's three little Paysages, lasting six minutes, were charming and well worth a hearing. His massive piano quintet of 1921-23 used to be thought innovative (he flirts with quarter-tones); revisited in Wigmore Hall (the loudest music I'v heard there in many months) it seemed one to be gently forgotten. There are worse pieces of music but I couldn't think of them. Piers Lane thundered on the Steinway and the Goldners did their valiant best to keep up...

But what made this evening one to remember was a quite exceptional account of the Beethoven "Harp" quartet. The Goldner Quartet of Australia is a mature, thoughtful group who made this, Beethoven's "pastoral quartet?", riveting from first bar to last. In the programme it was described, fairly, as "intimate & introspective, moments of pain and intensity contrasting with sweetness and charm". All that was there, perfectly balanced.

In 1997 one of our reviewers, sadly deceased, wrote of the Goldners' Op 132 at Wigmore Hall "sublime homogeneity, faithful in particular to the tempo markings, but also to its soaring, searing emotions - - never rushed or over-projected, always exactly in what I imagine is the spirit of the composer - - the Goldners never put display or show above depth."

Let's not have to wait two more years to hear them again.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See though Bloch's Macbeth from University College, London [Editor]