Review of October 12 Concert

The Letchworth Music Club’s new season got off to a wonderful start on October the 12th with a concert by ‘Quartet Camerata’. They began the first half of their programme with Haydn’s Quartet in D major (Op. 76 No 5), whose skittish playfulness set a lovely note for the whole evening. They followed this with Beethoven’s Quartet in C minor, (Op. 18 No 4). This work was written in Vienna at the very end of the 18th century and was published in 1801. It is composed in C minor and displays the usual energetic intensity that Beethoven brings to this particular key. It is interesting to see how Beethoven lightens the overarching sombre quality of the music by passages in the major key that are like the sun smiling through breaks in the clouded sky. The contrasting nature of this piece is a tour de force and was well brought out by the four hard working players of Quartet Camerata.

After a well-earned interval rest, the quartet came on stage again with quite different and contrasting music. First they played two of Piazzolla’s pieces, ‘Oblivion’ and  ‘Libertango’, whose Argentinian melodies, rhythms and falling cadences took us all into the atmosphere of the cafes, bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. For it was here that the Tango originated, and was later developed by Piazzolla into its present very distinctive art form.

They finished their concert with Verdi’s Quartet in E minor. This is Verdi’s only chamber work and was written at the time of the first production of his opera ‘Aida’ in Naples. What struck the audience in Howgills was the surprisingly contrapuntal nature of both the first movement with its intricate development of the musical material, and last movement which is titled Scherzo Fuga – not at all like what one expects Verdi’s music to be. However, the two middle movements were much more tunefully operatic with an andantino that tugged at one’s heart strings and a rollicking Scherzo, marked “Prestissimo”. How lovely to be introduced to a gem that one hasn’t heard before – a perfect ending to a lovely concert.