WHILE only a stone’s throw away at Summerhall discussion was heating up about the current state of Edinburgh’s cultural scene, the New Town Concerts’ audience was spellbound listening to the Belcea Quartet in one of the venues which is central to it.
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
That the Queen’s Hall plays an important part in the capital’s arts infrastructure is in no doubt, especially as its acoustic is one ideally suited to high quality chamber music such as that heard there on Monday evening.
In a collision of anniversaries – 20 years for the quartet and 50 for New Town Concerts – the Belcea’s programme was a classic of lyrical Beethoven, mature Mozart and the second outing of a new quartet by Mark-Anthony Turnage.
The combination of the Belcea and Beethoven was one of supreme poise. In Op 18 No 3 it was as if they were on a magic carpet, instantly whisking their audience off to a world of exquisite, sometimes even ethereal, beauty. Lines of music interleaved with each other, violins fading down as viola or cello played up. Everything was heard with light and air in a focussed performance that was as coherently thought through as it was of the moment.
Their Mozart – K590 “Prussian” – also captured the essence of the piece, although momentum and clarity seemed to sag in the middle. Not so for the Turnage, a score of great presence, with troubled edginess fused to taut tension, possibly befitting its title and inspiration, Contusion, Sylvia Plath’s poem about bruising.
Seen on 08.12.14