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Friday 9 Oct 2015

7:30 pm • £12

Heath Quartet

Oliver Heath - violin

Cerys Jones - violin

Gary Pomeroy - viola

Christopher Murray - cello

Music by Haydn, Bartók & Beethoven

Heath Quartet

Photo: Sussie Ahlburg

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String Quartet op.20 no.1 in E flat


String Quartet op.20 no.1 in E flat


String Quartet op.20 no.1 in E flat



When discussing the" Heath Quartet" it is easy to run out of superlatives. This was plainly evident at the concert held on Friday 9th October when at their second visit to us they played a demanding programme of string quartets by Haydn, Bartok, and Beethoven.

Electing to stand throughout the concert, with the exception of the cellist, it was apparent from the first note that they meant business.

What possible accolades can one give apart from "perfection" when referring to their precision, their glorious tone and phrasing, their incredible dynamic range from the quietest pianissimo to the loudest forte, and their absolute musical accord with one another which only comes with many years of playing together.

The four movement quartet op.20 No.1 in E flat by the "Father" of the string quartet, Haydn, got the recital off to a tuneful and jolly start, the straight forward first movement being followed by the Minuet and then a most sensuous and mellifluous third movement before the final Presto. This fairly romped along with adventurous syncopations on route.

The Bartók String Quartet No.5, written in 1934 and one of six, is a lengthy work and perhaps not immediately "aurally friendly" to some. Commencing with strident chords, the first movement embarks on a highly adventurous type of "Sonata Form" with unusual key sequences and melodic inversions. Two slow movements exemplify the composer`s "night music" and contain passages of seemingly disconnected and eerie melodic fragments whilst the spirited Scherzo displays typical Bulgarian Folk rhythms but with odd displacement of the 9/8 beat. The Finale concludes with a very busy and sometimes frenetic exuberance.

To conclude the programme, one of Beethoven`s last works, the String Quartet No.16 op.135 in F confirmed the rare ability and quality of this ensemble. Written in 1826, a year before his death, this is a profound work far removed from earlier writings and the four movements cover a whole gamut of emotions especially in the Vivace and the slow movement where joy and sorrow progress towards the quiet, and perhaps contented, final Rondo.

For an encore, the Heath Quartet played a Tchaikovsky extract quite superbly to the delight of the large audience who were understandably loathe to bring this concert to an end by this group of musicians who undoubtedly deserve their reputation of being one of the most exciting British chamber ensembles on the musical scene.



The Heath Quartet

In May 2013 the Heath Quartet became the first ensemble in 15 years to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artists Award. Formed in 2002 at the Royal Northern College of Music they were selected for representation by YCAT, were awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Special Ensemble Scholarship and in 2012 won Ensemble Prize at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The Heath Quartet regularly appear at Wigmore Hall and have collaborated with Stephen Hough, Ian Bostridge, Anna Caterina Antonacci and Mark Padmore. Elsewhere in the UK they have performed at the Barbican, Bridgewater Hall, Sage Gateshead, Perth Concert Hall and Queen’s Hall Edinburgh. In Europe they have appeared at the Kissingen Winterzauber, Schwetzinger and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festivals as well as the deSingel Arts Centre in Antwerp, Vara Konserthus (Sweden), the Berlin Konzerthaus, the Esterházy Palace, the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Other collaborations include the Florestan Piano Trio, Tokyo Quartet, Colin Currie, Joanna MacGregor, Aleksandar Madzar and Michael Collins.

The Quartet has enjoyed working with several leading composers including Louis Andriessen, Sofia Gubaidulina, Anthony Gilbert, Brett Dean, Steven Mackey and Hans Abrahamsen. They took part in the European premiere of Steve Mackey’s ‘Gaggle and Flock’ for string octet, and received unanimous critical acclaim for their performance of Ligeti’s Quartet No.2 and Thomas Ades’ Arcadiana for The Park Lane Group at the Purcell Room.

Recent highlights have included a complete Beethoven Cycle at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the world premiere of a John Tavener piece at the BBC Proms, concerts at the Mecklenburgh-Vorpommern Festival, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and their debut at the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre in Paris as well as at Carnegie Hall, New York.

This season includes concerts at Birmingham Town Hall, the Beethovenfest Bonn and Kettle’s Yard, recitals in Spain with Anna Caterina Antonacci, a world premiere by John Musto at Wigmore Hall with Carolyn Sampson and their debut at Lincoln Center New York.

The Quartet are currently Professors of Chamber Music Fellows at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.