Classical review: Edinburgh Quartet - St Geroge’s West, Edinburgh

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A NEW season, a new venue, a new member and some of the most glorious old music sounding newly cast all set the seal on the Edinburgh Quartet’s first concert of the winter season.

As they embarked on a cycle of string quartets by Beethoven, Wednesday’s concert offered a representative sample of the mature and the early, and a quartet which started its life as a piano sonata.

In the generous acoustic of St George’s West Church, the Quartet appeared almost in the round, with the audience seated in intimate proximity on three sides of the players. Following in her father Michael’s footsteps, new viola player Jessica Beeston, who must have grown up with the Edinburgh Quartet as extended family, slotted easily into the ensemble’s well-blended sound.

The C minor quartet, Op 18 No 4, was performed with the Quartet’s typically buoyant energy. Unpretentious and open-hearted, the four players are unusually skilled in connecting with their audience.

The jauntily pointed rhythms in this piece characterised Beethoven’s playful writing, while the F major Quartet Op 14 demonstrated Beethoven’s gift for dramatic tension. It was the first of the late quartets, Op 127, however, which was the most substantial work of the programme. Expressive at every turn, its momentum only stalled in the contrapuntal complexities of the third movement. Rustic charm set the mood of the Finale, while the dignified beauty of the slow movement was breathtaking.

Rating: ****