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Wiren & LeFanu etc

Peter Maxwell Davies – Quartet Movement (1952)
Dag Wirén Quartet No. 4 (1952-3) (British Premiere)
Nicola LeFanu 3rd Quartet (2010)
Hilding Rosenberg No. 11 (1956) (British Premiere)
David Matthews- 12th Quartet (2010)

Kreutzer Quartet

Wilton’s Music Hall 27th November 2011

A marathon concert, strenuous for performers and listeners, with Wilton's seasonally decorated for Christmas.

Best for me were the Lefanu & Wirén quartets, Dag lWirén's No 4 scotching the common assumption that he was a one-work composer (the Strings Serenade). See his biography and list of compositions; there is a lot to explore.

Nicola LeFanu, composer daughter of a famous composer mother whose 80th birtday party I was prvileged to attend *, Nicola is still better known as a champion of women musicians and composers at a time when they were seriously under-represented in concert life, than for her own substantial body of music.

Her 2010 quartet's texture was more transparent than any of its companions this evening, and its unpredictable direction of argument will reward re-listening [Quartet No 2 is highly praised in MusicWeb].

Rosenberg's powerful No 11 was a reminder of "a composers' composer whose genius reaches its peak in his 12 string quartets", which merit running as a series by an enterprising British quartet - available on CD [Caprice CAP 21431] "one of the greatest achievements in Swedish music".

Maybe the revival of Matthews' No 12 was not well placed at the end of so demanding a concert? Running to most of three-quarters of an hour, it had been premiered more suitably as the main item of the first half at Wilton's in February: "a significant new quartet which embeds several lighter movements inside its mainstructure, something like Beethoven's Op 130 - - Piazzola and Mahler have a look-in, not to speak of birdsong to finish". On rehearing I was more struck by its derivations than by its originality and personal voice, and on this occasion would have preferred it to have ended with the slow movement.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* Elizabeth Maconchy's Orchestral Music:

Lorelt LNT133

- - a very polished collection with the excellent BBC Scottish Symphony - - the Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra and the precocious four-movement suite The Land – both first performed in 1930, and composed while she was still studying at the Royal College of Music - - From 1954 there's the weighty and ambitious Symphony for Double String Orchestra and the astringent and pithy Music for Wind and Brass of 1966. - - [The Guardian]

This sums it up perfectly; a fine CD of music by Nicola's eminent mother.

Purcell, Alwyn, Klaverdal & Beethoven

Chaconne in G minor (Purcell) "Facade of the Glory" (Stefan Klaverdal - b.1975) String quartet No. 3 (William Alwyn) Quartet Op 74 "The Harp" (Beethoven)

Tippett Quartet
John Mills, Jeremy Isaac, violins Julia O’Riordan, viola Bozidar Vukotic, cello

28 November The Forge, Camden Town, London

Given as the finalé of Björn Kleiman's "anglo-swedish string extravaganza 2011", this revised programme actually had only about 8 mins of Swedish music, an intriguing single movement with tape backing from minimalist composer Stefan Klaverdal's The Sacred Family (i.e. the unfinished Gaudi cathedral in Barcelona) [CD: C-Y contemporary CY1001]. **

The concert had opened with a fine senza vibrato performance of Purcell's chaconne, demonstrating the quartet's stylistically varied interpretations, informed by their study of performance practice of all eras. It was contrasted immediately with the romantic 3rd Quartet of Alwyn, a speciality of theirs which we had enjoyed at Wigmore Hall, 2007; a work for which respect and admiration grows with repeated hearing.

To end, an ebullient account of Beethoven's Harp Quartet, replacing Britten who had been scheduled to represent England !

The Forge is a pleasant, welcoming venue, with excellent acoustics for chamber music.

Peter Grahame Woolf

** Hyperlinks are integral to most of my reports, and they allow for more brevity of texts, but shoud be "clicked" if you can spare time. That for Stefan Klaverdal above gives an excellent introduction to this red-shoed composer and his music, and should not be skipped !