Allegri String Quartet

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Assembly House, Norwich


The Assembly House, Norwich

This particularly well attended lunchtime recital by the Allegri String Quartet demonstrated the delights of chamber music.

Although dating from the ominous year 1789, Mozart's D Major Quartet had charm in its opening, and the andante added grace, even a touch of romance. After that the texture became more complex, bringing out deeper emotions in more demanding music.

Making a strong contrast with the elegances of the classical style, Smetana's Quartet “From My Life” was a disturbing self-portrait in music. In four vivid episodes it caught the composer's violent mood swings. They made all the more impact since private anguish was set against the bustle and vigour of dance themes.

Sweeping straight-fingered plucking, more powerful and with more colour than ordinary pizzicato, created an impression of nothing ventured nothing gained, and conveyed a mood of wild abandon.

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Although combining and blending admirably, the four players each had a distinct personality that came across not only in their major solo passages.

First violin Alda Dizdari's facial expression and subtle body language added a dimension to the emotions she was interpreting. Pal Banda, on the other hand, was impassive throughout and sparing of gesture as he played his 18th-century cello with marvellous control of tone, whether in quiet passages or when asked to be more assertive.

The demeanour of the Swiss violist Dorothea Vogel and second violin Rafael Todes conveyed alertness and suppressed energy and they tactfully accepted supporting roles while biding their time.

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