by Rachel Beaumont

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Connection restored: Carducci Quartet at the Wigmore Hall

Carducci String Quartet
Wigmore Hall
Stalls D15, £5 (under-35s)
12 July 2018
Wigmore page

Haydn, String Quartet op. 17 no. 1
Haydn, String Quartet op. 50 no. 2
Bartók, String Quartet no. 2

Same forces, same place, similar music, same professionalism – but a completely different experience from last week. Proof of the rich power of the string quartet or the variability of my mood or both I don’t know, but either way it was a relief to emerge from this concert feeling a connection restored.

The Carducci seem tonal opposites of the Tana. The tuning isn’t perfect and neither is the ensemble, but what they have instead is a joyous engagement – ok, maybe not joyous for the Bartók, but for both Haydn and Bartók a singing elevation of line and rhetoric, an instinctive aliveness to the music’s speech. In the Haydn this manifests as charm, wit, fun, the music’s humour always picked up by the quartet and splayed out with an enthusiasm to share the delights Haydn has given us. In the Bartók there is the same eloquence but now of dread, of horror, of an urgency that can’t be answered.

If anything the Carducci might be too much; there was almost something of the matinee idol about them, particularly the first violinist, performing with a sensuous, inclusive intimacy that might become cloying after prolonged exposure. But far better to err on that side.

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