It’s always a gamble when planning any concert – sometimes an all-popular programme can draw in the crowds, while conversely having something decidedly different on the menu achieves the same result.
Musically-speaking the Wihan Quartet’s opening gambit paid off. Ronald Corp is perhaps better known as a conductor, but his Third Quartet, which the Wihans actually premiered last year, provided an ideal aperitif for what was to follow.
While the outer movements seem initially somewhat less engaging, the slow Cantilena was a pure gem, which the quartet despatched with heartfelt emotion.
While the Wihans have a proven reputation for performing music from their Czech homeland, their choice of Dvorak‘s C major Quartet, Op 61 might equally have proved less wise, given that the work is one of the composer’s least nationalist creations and, as such, less frequently heard.
Again, in the hands of this superb ensemble, any doubts were well and truly dispelled, especially in the more dance-like finale.
Beethoven’s C sharp minor Quartet is as much a monumental seven-movement musical work as almost an all-embracing spiritual, almost religious experience.
Once more the Wihans didn’t disappoint, with a performance of the utmost insight and emotion, which so flawlessly conveyed the composer’s complex intentions.
PHILIP R BUTTALL