Nicholas Yonge Society

International Chamber Music in Lewes

Brompton String Quartet

27th January 2023
Haydn String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76 No. 1
Grażyna Bacewicz String Quartet No. 3
Peter Copley String Quartet No. 3

This concert in a comfortably warm hall was an invigorating experience for the the NYS audience. The Brompton Quartet, barring the cellist who has a stool on a platform, stood to perform and this appeared to energise the players without their moving excessively when playing. From the outset we were drawn in to Haydn’s stylish contrapuntal writing. Each of these musicians is a soloist as well as a chamber musician and the balance across the four players was beautifully managed. Melodic lines were passed from one player to another with ease and sense of the whole musical
intent. Haydn’s varied moods, sometimes witty, sometimes serene and calm engaged us and this audience listened with close attention to the well known Haydn Quartet.

Kinga Wojdalska, the violist, introduced us to Grażyna Bacewicz explaining their shared nationality and her wish to perform Bacewicz’s music to a wide public. Bacewicz was a violinist and her facility and brilliance as a soloist was clearly in evidence here. Each of the Brompton Quartet were more than capable of delivering whatever challenges appeared in the score. The emotional spectrum in this piece was wide and rapid changes of mood were executed marvellously well. The slow movement was particularly intense and dark. Bacewicz’s music needs to be heard more frequently, recorded and brought into mainstream programmes.

After the interval, Peter Copley spoke briefly and told us of his period studying in Poland and his encounters with Grażyna Bacewicz’s music. He also paid tribute to Haydn, whose music had inspired his 2nd quartet. This time, his 3rd Quartet has Beethoven’s structural qualities as a “starting point”. Some in the audience might have heard this quartet last year in Brighton, in which case they had an advantage over others. Copley’s counterpoint, rapid mood changes, pauses and dramatic flourishes were all executed brilliantly and at the end of the second movement, the closing figure brought a chuckle from some, who enjoyed the backward looking reference. After a rigorous vivace final movement which kept momentum and absolute audience commitment, the quartet came to a close with another nod to past composers and older harmonic soundscapes. The sense of triumph was palpable and the Brompton Quartet clearly relished the performance quite as much as the audience who are seasoned chamber music listeners.

These four young players are finely balanced and are entirely committed to the music played. Their playing is highly expressive and they work as a whole, with equal intensity, warmth and energy. They deserve continued recognition and should be congratulated for their willingness to work with unusual scores as well as standard chamber repertoire.

Review​er: Helen Simpson

Photograp​her: David James