Nicholas Yonge Society

International Chamber Music in Lewes

Piatti Quartet

28th October 2022
Elgar String Quartet in E minor
John Hawkins Fuzon
Beethoven String Quartet in F  Op 59 No. 1

The 59th Concert Season opened on 28th October with a vivid masterclass in rhythmic and dynamic variety given by the Piatti String Quartet. From the very opening bars of Elgar’s only String Quartet it was clear that we were enjoying a very special evening of music making. The beautiful soft sounds created by Michael, Rebecca, Tetsuumi and Jessie contrasted with the frenetic writing so full of echoes of the much better-known Cello Concerto. Elgar’s sound world, reflecting uncertain times as World War One drew to a close, was captured eloquently by the Quartet. The rapt attention of the audience throughout the performance showed how successfully the quartet had drawn us all into the music.

The Quartet revelled in the rhythmic drive and complexities of John Hawkins’ ‘Fuzon’ inspired by William Blake’s nightmarish visions. Having given the first performance of the work in 2012 and played it many times since, their familiarity with the single movement conjured up for us a convincing sound world.

Before playing the final piece in the programme, Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Opus 59 No.1, the first of the famed Razumovsky Quartets, Michael reminded us all how Beethoven changed the course of quartet writing with this work. Symphonic in length and in imagination, the players revelled in the sonorities, the tunes and the sheer inventiveness. The breadth of the tonal and dynamic contrasts was bold and engaging, and the conversational interplay between the instruments was gripping. 

I enjoyed the light touch and rhythmic drive throughout the Scherzando second movement which created a dramatic contrast with the beautiful playing of the slow movement that followed. The warm sound and simple vibrato, particularly of Jessie’s cello playing, was very expressive. A beautifully played violin melodic melisma reminiscent of the Violin Concerto led us all to the final movement in which Beethoven’s fertile imagination conjured magic with the Russian Theme. The dramatic coda created a spontaneous cry of 'Bravo' from the encouragingly sizeable audience.

Review​er: ​Nicolas Chisholm

Photograp​her: David James