The Scotsman - - Bookfestival -

THE ti­tle of Bar­tok’s Con­trasts for vi­o­lin, clar­inet and pi­ano rather gives the game away as to what this Benny Good­man com­mis­sion is about. Even in its open­ing bars at the Queen’s Hall yes­ter­day morn­ing, the mel­liflu­ous runs of Nash En­sem­ble clar­inet­tist Richard Hos­ford were in com­plete con­trast to the pizzi­cato sounds of vi­o­lin­ist An­drew Haveron. With pi­anist Ian Brown com­plet­ing the group, their as­sertive per­for­mance was per­fectly bal­anced. Classy play­ing was flaw­less from all three.

Con­trast of a dif­fer­ent sort was of­fered in Ge­orge Ger­swhin’s Lul­laby for string quar­tet, first heard at the Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val in 1963 in a ver­sion that starred Larry Adler on har­mon­ica. If an un­ease of syn­chrony among the four play­ers re­stricted the sweet gen­tle­ness of Ger­swhin’s charm­ing melody, their gutsy sound was a dis­tinct ad­van­tage in Co­p­land’s Sex­tet. Rhyth­mi­cally com­plex, at times hard-edged in its jagged­ness, the quar­tet plus clar­inet and pi­ano brought en­ergy to Co­p­land’s tran­scrip­tion of what started out as a sym­phony. Dvo­rak’s String Quin­tet No 3 was sim­i­larly full-bod­ied, oc­ca­sion­ally rough at the edges, but breath­tak­ing in its an­i­mated vigour.


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