Review: Bernadel Quartet, Assembly House.

NNF14 - Bernadel Quartet. NNF14 - Bernadel Quartet.

Frank Cliff
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
1:40 PM

The Bernadel Quartet was formed at the Royal Academy in 2009, and has gone on to win various awards, notably the 2013 Royal Greenwich Intercollegiate String Quartet Competition.

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Like all young string quartets, their standard of performance is very high, but what really impressed at this lunchtime recital,in addition to the excellence of ensemble and intonation, was the maturity of their readings of each of the three works they performed.

In Schubert’s Quartetsatz, a single movement of an abandoned work, the contrast between the dramatic first subject and the lyrical second, was brilliantly achieved; excellently controlled crescendi from almost nothing to fortissimo for the first, William Melvin’s violin as lovely as one could wish for in the second.

Haydn’s Op.76 No.3, the “Emperor” quartet, was played in great style; robust, yet stylish, playing in the outer movements; the Hungarian folk-like melody in the first movement played with great enthusiasm, yet always perfectly controlled, while the theme and variations of the slow movement were performed most sensitively.

Finally, Shostakovich’s 11th F Minor quartet, a late work written in memory of his friend, Vasily Shirinsky, second violin of the Beethoven Quartet, with whom Shostakovich frequently collaborated.U nusually, the work is in seven movements, though each is very short, the whole quartet lasting less than 20 minutes.

It was in this work that the Bernadel showed their real mastery, coping brilliantly with the work’s technical difficulties and capturing the changes in in texture and colour of this predominantly sombre piece.

Frank Cliff

• The Bernadel Quartet’s performance was part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival which runs until Sunday. Visit www.nnfestival.org.uk

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