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John McCabe and Peter Dickinson String Quartet premieres
plus Bartok 3 and Sibelius 'Voces Intimae'

Classical Music At Wilton's: The Kreutzer Quartet
Peter Sheppard Skærved - Mihailo Trandafilovski - Violins Morgan Goff - Viola Neil Heyde - Cello Linda Merrick Clarinet Pre-concert talk 2:30pm, concert 3pm.

Wilton's Music Hall Grace's Alley, London E1, 19 June '11

Bartok and Sibelius both revolutionised quartet writing in totally distinctive ways, whilst carrying on dialogues with the works of Beethoven - tonight's concert presented two of the spectacular results alongside two important premieres.

A fine concert, very much one in two halves, with the Kreutzers at the top of their game.

Bartok No 3, played straight through without pause, was quite a cliff-hanger, the concentration of the players making for a comparably intense listening experience. Following it immediately with the first London hearing of McCabe's dense clarinet quintet made for a tiring pairing, perhaps exhausting for the players too. Impressve idiomatic accounts of both works, with a fine clarinettist joining the quartet.

For the second half I moved from the third row to the very back, with a marked improvement in the sound, especially receiving there more of the resonance which is a feature of Wilton's and enhances the music (Peter Sheppard Skærved alluded to its importance in his virtuoso pre-concert talk, with special reference to the significance of Sibelius' rests.). As Peter S-S explained, Bartok and Sibelius both revolutionised quartet writing in totally distinctive ways, whilst carrying on dialogues with the works of Beethoven with spectacular results.

Dickinson's concise 1st quartet (1958/2010) - there is a second, Str Qt no.2, with tape/pf, 1975 - also benefited from hearing less close. It is a delightful work in three concise movements (I could have done with a fourth !) scored with transparency and a lot of 'air'.

And it paired well with Voces Intimae, the last of Sibelius's string quartets (the only one generally known), a marvellous 5- movement work in arch style with a slow centre; it really stands well in the company of the symphonies, and brought this great concert to a thrilling finish.

It is good to know that the whole concert was being recorded by OpticNerve. I particularly look forward to getting to grips with the McCabe whilst refreshing my memories of a special Sunday afternoon in one of London's most sympathetic, informal environments for chamber music, where it was possible to talk with three major composers, the two featured today, plus David Matthews, all of whose quartets are being recorded by the Kreutzers.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Mozart & Trandafilovski

Mozart String Quintet No.1 in B-flat major, K.174 Adagio K 411 String Quintet No.6 in E-flat major, K.614
Mihailo Trandafilovski Magnets, Lava, Crystals (2011, World Premiere)

Kreutzer Quartet: Peter Sheppard Skæved Violin Mihailo Trandafilovski Violin Morgan Goff Viola Neil Heyde Cello
Roger Heaton Clarinet

Wilton's Music Hall, 7 December 2011

An enjoyable Mainly Mozart recital, before which Peter Sheppard Skæved described the different ways in which Mozart integrated two violas into his six quintets, before we heard two of the less famous ones, with different set-ups on stage.

Mihailo Trandafilovski's new short, slow piece for clarinet and string quartet, with its inscrutable title and which featured "freeze pauses", was hard to grasp at a first hearing.