First on the programme was the Beethoven op 95 quartet which, alone among his many weighty works, he labelled as ‘serioso’. It received a fine performance, intense in the spiky first movement, sublime in the far-from-slow second, stormy in the scherzo-like third and, in the fourth, by turns dark, angry and almost joyous. Throughout the parts were wonderfully balanced yet the entries in the many passages of counterpoint emerged clearly from the texture to point up the argument.
This was followed by Mendelssohn’s E minor quartet, a work no less serious but more exhilarating, particularly in a performance that took off at quite a pace; fast but not so that any of the semiquavers felt in the least hurried. The Scherzo was also dispatched with appropriate speed added to lightness of touch. Here again the slow movement was the heart of the work with Andrew Wilkinson (first violin), on the principle of less is more, laying his melody so lightly on the accompaniment that it seemed made of the merest gossamer.
The final work was Ravel’s only string quartet with its distinctive harmony and colouration, demanding from the players not only a ferocious technique but the ability to be a soloist one moment and a second later to merge into the accompanying figures. This is where the long experience of playing together gives a quartet like the Endellion the real edge. In a pitch-perfect performance, vastly enjoyed by the King’s Hall audience, I want particularly to commend Garfield Jackson (viola) for his beautiful legato, David Waterman (cello) for his vibrant tone and Ralph de Souza (second violin) for matching Andrew Wilkinson so well throughout.