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Dramatic, vivid quartet a rarity

PUBLISHED: 11:13 19 March 2001 | UPDATED: 15:04 22 October 2010

Casals String Quartet @ the John Innes Centre, Colney.

Casals String Quartet @ the John Innes Centre, Colney.

By FRANK CLIFF

The string quartet in Spain is apparently a phenomenon as rare as snow in Seville.

Listening to the superb Casals Quartet on Saturday, it was hard to believe their playing was not part of a long-established tradition and astonishing to learn that currently they're Spain's only professional quartet.

Their technique is superb and they share a collective temperament that produces vivid and exciting performances.

If the drama was occasionally overplayed in Beethoven's first opus 18 quartet, by the end of the breathtaking finale their style had made its mark: one ideally suited to the extremes of light and shade of James MacMillan's second quartet.

Shostakovitch's 8th quartet produced the finest performance of the evening.


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