Duke Quartet

Church Hall, Sunday September 17th 2017

Duke Quartet

Iffley Music Society’s twenty-second season began on 17 September in the Church Hall with a carefully structured programme performed by the Duke Quartet – Louisa Fuller and Rick Koster (violins), John Metcalfe (viola) and Sophie Harris (‘cello) - Louisa Fuller making a welcome return to Iffley following her performance in April 2016 with the Millbrook Ensemble.

In a well-chosen opener, the measured intent of the introduction to Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, nicknamed ‘Dissonance’, resolved into bright tones in an elegant performance of this late quartet (K465). While the second movement was taken more slowly than is sometimes the case, the effect overall was dignified and satisfying.
The Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 110 then followed. Often considered to be a good pairing with the Mozart quartet as its own dissonances recall the quiet opening Cs of the Mozart first movement, it could not be further away in its spine-shivering, sombre, sometimes sad, sometimes explosive mood. The Duke Quartet were at their best in this towering piece which although originally dedicated to victims of "fascism and war" is now considered to commemorate the victims of all totalitarianism. The Duke were warm, expressive across the whole range of the music, and responsive to each other throughout.
The programme concluded with Ravel’s F Major quartet, letting delicacy, lyricism and sunlight back once more into the Hall. Although an early work (1903), the quartet is densely textured, delighting with complex and sometimes playful rhythms but in a wholly classical form.

Put together, the programme could have been a textbook overview of the quartet as a musical form. We heard innovation in string quartet writing in the 1780s, classical mastery of the form in the early twentieth century, and the innovative capacity of the quartet to convey the trauma and despair of later years.

Iffley Parish Magazine