Review: Behn Quartet at Norwich’s Octagon Chapel

NNF16. Image: submitted.

NNF16. Image: submitted. - Credit: submitted

To open the Royal Academy of Music's contribution to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival that by now has almost become a tradition, this lunch-time recital was given in the handsome Octagon Chapel by the Behn Quartet, named after the pioneering Restoration dramatist.

Its members, who have come to London for advanced studies are Kate Oswin from New Zealand and Alicia Berendse from the Netherlands (both playing eighteenth-century Italian violins), the violist Lydia Abell, who was born in Wales, and the Cambridge graduate Ghislaine McMullin, whose cello was made in France in the nineteenth century.

Dating from 1772, Joseph Haydn's Opus 20, No.6 in A Major was an example of the string quartet from the days when the form was being established. Played neatly, with quite restricted tone, it came across as charming testimony to its period, ending with rather unexpected fugal patterns.

Maurice Ravel's Quartet had a distinctly more modern, sometimes melancholy mood with strong contrasts within as well as between movements. A succession of powerful pizzicato sections made a particularly strong impression, and the viola, elsewhere rather swamped, was allowed a certain prominence with a sound of its own.

The large audience responded enthusiastically to the programme and the performances.

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Christopher Smith

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