THE string quartet is musical conversation at its most elevated and the levels of eloquence reached at last night’s Huddersfield Music Society concert were often exceptional.
The opening piece, Mozart’s quartet in A Major, illustrated the point perfectly.
It is a composition that contains a great deal of contrapuntal and imitative writing and the effect is that of ideas being tossed around and debated. The members of the Heath quartet proved to be particularly communicative conversationalists.
They cultivate a lightly varnished sound, full of clarity. In many ways it is a modern sound, unburdened by excessive vibrato, even when staples of the nineteenth century repertoire are being played.
Romanticism was kept under restraint even in the final item, the Brahms string quartet in C minor. The lightness of touch that characterised the Heath String Quartet’s playing was at its most delightful in the lively triple time passages of this composition’s third movement.
Between the Mozart and the Brahms came some Bartok – his third quartet. Although this piece is 80 years old, it still manages to sound almost abrasively contemporary and it seemed that the Heaths were particularly at home in this sound world.
There might not be much beauty in Bartok, but there are moments of lyricism, and these were brought out well, especially during a passage in which the viola and cello duetted.Š
Also, the Heath quartet’s members showed their mastery of the special techniques – playing close to the bridge and so forthŠ – which Bartok uses so extensively and, on the evidence of last night, to such good effect.