Auer String Quartet Weekend, Norwich

MICHAEL DRAKE The weekend programme of the Norfolk and Norwich Music Club could be said to have been born out of necessity.

MICHAEL DRAKE

The weekend programme of the Norfolk and Norwich Music Club could be said to have been born out of necessity.

First, that of repeating a winning formula – there were few vacant seats for the trio of concerts – plus the desire to marry an exciting young pianist with the return of an equally high-class string quartet and all within the artistes' joint repertoires.

The series opened on Saturday evening at the John Innes Centre, Colney, with emphatic statements in Brahms's Quartet No 1. Not a relaxing work, nevertheless there was a lyrical reticence in the Romanze, with the Auer weaving the final section of the following movement into a rich sound tapestry, which spilled over into an intense Finale. Steven Osborne was the soloist in Schubert's Impromptu No 1, a gem of composition.


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In Brahms's Quintet in F minor, all players came together and Osborne, allied to string strength showed glimpses of the “concerto” side of his performance.

There was a lack of real spontaneity though until a lively Scherzo and an animated and cohesive Finale left anticipation for the morrow and the second of Brahms's Opus 51 String Quartets. Markedly contrasting with No 1, it allowed the Auer to radiate a warmth and more tempered musical animation, particularly in the Andante and mobile Minuet before a highly charged final movement.

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On Sunday afternoon, a trio of well-known local artists, now prominent further afield, continued the theme – soprano Meg Starling, with Schubert's “The Shepherd on the Rock”, Robert Plane providing soothing sounds in Brahms's Clarinet Quintet Opus 115 and with cellist Martin Storey and Steven Osborne in the Clarinet Trio Opus 114 to conclude a splendid weekend.

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