TITLE: Borromini Quartet
VENUE: St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield
By: Chris Robins
THE Borromini Quartet are yet another exciting group to catch the sharp eye of Huddersfield Music Society.
They specialise in exploring 18th century performance using classical period instruments on loan from the Becket Collection at the Royal Academy of Music.
Years ago I shared a flat with John Toll, father of the Quartet’s first violin James Toll. The father was a great early music researcher, performer and thinker. The son and his colleagues, just starting their careers, have the potential to be even greater.
In their hands the period instruments produced a penetrating sound allowing total clarity while maintaining deep resonance – appropriate to Haydn, Boccherini and Mozart who explored the expressive and structural possibilities of four instruments working together on an equal basis. Their Quartet title declares their mission statement – Francesco Borromini was a daring Italian baroque architect who understood both structure and vivid expressiveness.
The Quartet gave a sober account of Haydn’s Op. 9 D minor work, one of his first attempts at quartet structure, with the wit of Haydn’s later works only breaking through in the last movement.
They were convincing advocates for Boccherini, a favourite of theirs, in two of his rarely-heard 91 quartets. They showed us music that is serious-minded, affecting and rather delicate – exquisitely beautiful with sudden dramatic pauses.
In Mozart’s mature A major quartet K464 they showed just what a master composer could make of the genre – a totally natural unfolding of musical events with contrapuntal and rhythmic development punctuated by dramatic silences.