Nicholas Yonge Society

Chamber Music in Lewes

26th January 2018

Borodin String Quartet No. 2 in D major
Shostakovich String Quartet No. 9 in Eb major Op. 117
Tchaikovsky String Quartet No. 1 in D major Op. 11 

Escher Quartet in performance 

Rapturously received by a packed audience, this all-Russian programme played by the brilliant Escher Quartet was a triumph in every department. Versatility plus acute sensitivity ruled in all three pieces, and it was little wonder that the CD recordings brought along by the Quartet were snapped up within minutes.    

The concert opened with Borodin’s Quartet number 2, whose meltingly beautiful Notturno was later borrowed with great success by George Forrest for his musical Kismet.  The Escher played this piece properly romantically, slowing down the tempo at particular moments to intensify the emotion, all players in perfect accord. Having softened up their audience so effectively it was now time for Shostakovich’s Ninth String Quartet.   Not as famous as those composed either directly before or after, its quality of sheer musical fury is still truly something else. Difficult to read from the score, let along play, the Escher went for it hell for leather and were rewarded by a prolonged ovation.

A calmer atmosphere returned after the interval with Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet number 1. The famous andante, also arranged by the composer for cello and orchestra, was as beautiful as ever, with Pierre Lapointe making his viola sing out on equal terms with the sweet violin tones from leader Adam Barnett-Hart. A night to remember indeed.  

Reviewer: Nicholas Tucker
Photographer: David James