United Kingdom Haydn, Webern & Beethoven: Jubilee String Quartet [Tereza Privratska (violin I), Alma Olite (violin II), Stephanie Edmundson (viola), Lauren Steel (cello)],The White Church, (Fairhaven United Reformed Church), Lytham St. Annes, 19.6.2014 (MC)
Haydn: String Quartet in B minor Op. 33, No. 1
Webern: Langsamer Satz
Beethoven: String Quartet in F major, Op. 59, No. 1 ‘Razumovsky’
Outside the major cities and international festivals it is certainly becoming increasingly difficult to attend string quartet recitals. So as part of the Lytham St. Annes Festival 2014 it was good to have the Jubilee Quartet playing at The White Church, a well known landmark on the Fylde Coast of Lancashire.
On a lovely warm summer evening the Jubilee played in front of a decent sized audience considering the competition from England’s important World Cup football match with Columbia. I have heard a number of vocal events at The White Church and with its rather compact design the wood lined church with its stained glass windows provides a delightfully attractive acoustic.
This was a well chosen programme by the Jubilee, opening with Haydn and closing with Beethoven, composers whose string quartets rank at the pinnacle of chamber music. It was refreshing that the Jubilee had chosen the first in the Haydn set of six ‘Russian’ quartets opus 33 and one without a publisher’s name. Known as the ‘father of the string quartet’ Haydn’s music is not fragile like porcelain and his large output has all the durability of Gillow furniture; the B minor score was more than able to stand up to the vigorous playing of the Jubilee. Right from the opening movement Allegro moderato there was a perceptible feeling of freshness to the buoyant playing and in the beautiful Andante the quartet created a shadowy undertow of stealth.
Next a piece by Anton Webern known as the Langsamer Satz (slow movement) for string quartet. An early tonal work from the composer before he became a leading advocate of the 12 tone system it was not performed until almost sixty years after it was written. Ingrained with post-Brahmsian romanticism the Jubilee maintained a gripping intensity to its interpretation that brimmed over with yearning and anguish.
After the interval the Jubilee played the Beethoven String Quartet in F major, Op. 59/1 ‘Razumovsky’the first of a set of three middle period strings quartets. The commissioner was Count Andreas Razumovsky the Russian ambassador to Vienna who was an accomplished amateur violinist. Although written over two hundred years ago the Jubilee confirmed its ability to make an impact with Beethoven’s sharp and abrupt contrasts and the audacious dramatic climaxes that still feel startling today. Highlights from the Jubilee were the striking long breathed phrasing in the opening movement Allegro and the strong sense of introspection given to the Andante. At times its ensemble was so secure it felt as if the players were breathing as one. With such potent energy I admired the ability of the Jubilee to maintain such a high level of intensity throughout the score.
I have lost count of the number of first violinists in professional string ensembles that play with poor intonation. No such problems here with Tereza Privratska who is unquestionably a born quartet leader playing with such splendid intonation and a radiant silvery timbre that shone out through the wonderful sonics of the church. The unity of ensemble of the Jubilee is extremely tight. A minor observation is one of balance as the second violin and violist do not generally play with the same weight as the leader and cellist.
The Jubilee Quartet displays a facility beyond its years. With elevated qualities of commitment and sensitivity, and with leader Tereza Privratska in inspired form, the result was marvellously satisfying. I strongly advise taking any opportunity to hear the Jubilee Quartet in recital.
See http://www.jubileequartet.co.uk/for forthcoming engagements by the Jubilee Quartet