Barbican Quartet

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Amarins Wierdsma and Tim Crawford - violins

Christoph Slenczka - viola

Yoanna Prodanova - cello

Acclaimed for their "gusto, comradeship and sharp attack" (The Times) and "blazing and unusually forthright performance" (The Telegraph), the Barbican Quartet was founded at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Winners, in 2018, of both the St. Martin's Chamber Music Competition and the Albert and Eugenie Frost Prize of the Royal Philharmonic Society, this young ensemble regularly performs in the UK and continental Europe, and their performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as a part of the Barbican Total Immersion and BBC Proms. The Quartet currently studies with Günter Pichler at the Escuela de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid, and frequently works with members of the Belcea Quartet, thanks to the Belcea Quartet Charitable Trust. In April 2019, they were awarded first prize in the Joseph Joachim International Chamber Music Competition held in Weimar, Germany.

This concert takes place with generous assistance from Making Music and the St. Martin's Chamber Music Competition.

Photo credit: Gabriel M. Isserlis

HAYDNString Quartet Op.20, No.4
JANÁÇEKString Quartet No.1, 'Kreutzer Sonata'
SCHUBERTString Quartet No.14 in D minor, 'Death and the Maiden'



Skipton Music's 2019-20 season continued with a fine and intense concert by the young London-based Barbican Quartet. The concert opened with one of the finest of Haydn's early quartets, played with finesse and exuberance; I particularly enjoyed the hushed opening of the first movement, the deceptively simple first phrase from which the whole movement subsequently erupts. This was followed by Leos Janaček's highly intense and personal quartet no 1. It was perhaps a brave choice to bring this relatively unfamiliar work to a provincial audience; but the Barbican Quartet's performance will surely have made many converts, with all the varied emotions of this extraordinary work brought out with razor-edge precision.

For the second half the quartet turned to a more familiar - but no less intense - piece, Schubert's "Death and the maiden" quartet. This was again quartet playing of the highest quality, with relentless drive in the faster sections, elegance and grace in the few moments of relaxation. I do however wonder about the wisdom of including two such intense pieces in a single concert; your reviewer felt rather battered by the end of the Schubert, so that the choice of encore - the gentle slow movement of Mendelssohn's E minor quartet, played with warmth of tone and beauty of phrasing - was doubly welcome. We will surely hear much more of this highly talented group of players.

Charles Dobson