Nicholas Yonge Society

  International Chamber Music in Lewes

23rd November 2018

Haydn String Quartet Op 64 No 2
Erwin Schulhoff String Quartet No. 2
Dvořák String Quartet Op 96 ('American')

Martinu Quartet in performance 

Formed in 1976, much was expected from musicians who have played together for so long and much was duly delivered to a packed and enthusiastic Lewes audience. Starting with one of Haydn’s less-known quartets, Opus 64, no 2 in B Minor, the quartet played with the utmost clarity, with each musician perfectly heard yet still blending in with the others. This was a classical rather than a romantic interpretation, with the leader Lubimor Havlak setting the tone with razor-sharp playing.

There followed Schulhoff’s second String Quartet number 2, not known to most in the audience but a welcome newcomer. Dark rhythms scurried in the background, answered by individual instruments coming back with their own plangent tunes. A wild dance brought this urgent piece to its close, from a composer who clearly had so much more to contribute before his life was cruelly terminated in a German concentration camp. 

The second half was given over to Dvorak’s ever-popular American Quartet, Opus 96. Once again moments in this beautiful piece  came over as if newly-minted, the whole piece culminating in the irresistibly toe-tapping last movement. The generous applause that followed was enough to earn an encore, in this case a charmingly atmospheric waltz again by Dvorak, bringing the evening to a memorable end.

Reviewer: Nicholas Tucker
Photographer: David James