REVIEW: Brentano Quartet Concert, Chichester Chamber Concerts

This long-established string quartet based in New York gave a spell-binding performance of works by Mozart,

Bartok and Schubert in Christ Church, Chichester. Their refined and immaculate playing illuminated all three works but particularly Bartok’s 3rd string quartet in which their accurate corporate intonation made sense of the composer’s daring discords.

In Mozart’s Hunt quartet [K 458] they painted the huntsman scene with a variety of tone –colours which included playing some themes without vibrato to give a chorale effect and in the opening passages using exaggerated trills to suggest the hunter’s horn. The quartet’s rich tone was evident in the beautiful slow movement and contrasted well with the chirpiness of the preceding Menuetto.

The quartet’s dynamism came to the fore in Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet with some startling fortissimo attacks in the opening theme and the jagged dotted rhythms of the last movement. The Brentano excelled in the theme and variations based on Schubert’s own song which gives the quartet its name. Each instrument has its own variation showing off the virtuosity of the individual players – no weak links here; but the wonder of the Brentano quartet is its sheer unanimity of sound. How fortunate we are in Chichester to be able to hear string playing of this excellence from world-class ensembles, thanks to the work of Chichester Chamber Concerts. The capacity audience seemed to enjoy the relaxed and intimate ambience of their temporary venue at Christ Church whose acoustics compare favourably with the Assembly Rooms.

Raymond Greenlees