The Quartet Pro Musica at Holy Trinity, Sloane Sqaure

Haydn, Schubert and Dvořák: Quartet Pro Musica (Patrick Halling, Keith Lewis (violins), David Hume (viola), Myrtle Bruce-Mitford (cello)), Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square , London, 25.3.2011 (BBr)

Haydn : String Quartet in B♭, Sunrise (1790)
Schubert : String Quartet in A minor, Rosamunde, D804 (1824)
Dvořák : String Quartet No 12 in F, American, op.96 (1893)

A beautiful setting, great music and insightful performances all go to make a very satisfying, and exciting, evening of performance. Haydn’s ‘Sunrise’ Quartet made a marvelous start, and with the musicians’ full understanding of Haydn’s sense of fun it was a joyous experience, full of jests and good humour. But the composer’s serious side was neither forgotten nor neglected and the slow movement was a testament to calm and beauty. This was a superb performance of a work which glows with the joys of life.

Schubert’s A minor Quartet emerged freshly minted in a performance full of remembrances of things past, but without regret or despair and only a tinge of melancholy. The first movement was perfectly paced, and the contrasts between major and minor were well delineated. The slow movement was a delicate treat and the third a wistful morsel. With the finale we seem to find some bucolic charm but tonight’s players understood that there were uncomfortable undercurrents to the music and although a satisfactory conclusion was finally achieved it was a difficult journey in getting there.

Dvorák ‘s ‘American’ Quartet is one of his most popular and delightful works. Tonight we heard a performance which positively fizzed with good feeling and exuberance. There is nothing here of a deep and serious nature and, once again, the Pro Musica Quartet found exactly the right voice for its performance. Here, nothing was overstated, the dance rhythms were well handled and every note had a smile on its face.

A fascinating show, displaying the best in quartet playing and reminding us, as if we needed it, what makes chamber music so special and important.

Bob Briggs