Sini Simonen ‑ violin
Daniel Roberts ‑ violin
Charlotte Bonneton ‑ viola
Christopher Graves ‑ cello
Music by Haydn, Ravel, Beethoven
Photo: Kaupo Kikkas
String Quartet from op.76
String Quartet in F
String Quartet in F op.59 no.1 (Rasumovsky)
Notwithstanding the relatively short time since the ensemble was formed in 2011, the Castalian Quartet who visited us on Sunday 8th January, wove a captivating tapestry of sound with the bite and reciprocity in their playing usually found only after very many years of dedicated musical fellowship.
The Haydn "Emperor" four movement string quartet written by that "father" of all chamber music in 1797 immediately established the metal of these young players as a glance at their c.v. confirmed, and we were charmed with the interplay, phrasing and joyfulness of their music making, The nickname of this quartet is taken from the set of variations in the slow movement which are derived from the well known hymn tune "Austria" written by Haydn for the Austrian Emperor Francis.
Transported from the classical to the world of French 19th/early 20th century musical impressionism, the string quartet in F by Ravel written between 1902 and 1903, was given a ravishing performance. Superbly played throughout the four movements, the shimmering effect and the rhythmical eccentricities of this composer were conveyed to great effect producing for the listener a kaleidoscope of colours.
Reverting to the classical genre, the concert ended with Beethoven's op.59 "Razumovsky" string quartet in F. One of three such compositions written for the count whose title gives his name to this piece, they were written for keen amateur players of whom there were plenty. Following the usual four movement form but without the Adagio, most of the sections are designated "Allegro" although the third part did not seem to be particularly lively, nor the last, particularly Russian as indicated, despite the count being the Russian ambassador to Vienna at the time.
Altogether this was a splended concert with which to start the New Year, especially as it was attended by around 70 people on a rather wet and miserable Sunday afternoon. Judging by comments at the end, many people went away spiritually refreshed by these highly gifted young artists who had once again demonstrated the uplifting power of music when performed to such high professional standards.
Formed in 2011, the Castalian Quartet studied with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) at the Hannover University of Music, Dance and Theatre, graduating with a Masters. They have also worked with Thomas Brandis, Levon Chilingirian, Simon Rowland-Jones and members of the Endellion Quartet.
In 2015 the Quartet won 1st Prize and three special awards at the Lyon International Competition and in 2013 1st Prize and the Audience Prize at the Kammermusik Hannover Next Generation Competition. They were the only European quartet to progress to the live rounds of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition.
The Quartet has performed widely throughout Europe. Engagements this season include recitals at Wigmore Hall, the Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker, the Sparkassenforum Mittagskonzerte in Hannover, Quartetaffairs in Frankfurt (broadcast by NDR), the Festival de Musique de Conques in France, Festival Autunno Musicale Naples and Turin Chamber Music Series. They return to Aldeburgh and will be Artist in Residence at the Festival Musique d'Été à Suzette near Avignon.