Classical review: Amaryllis Quartet

In choosing the one and only string quartet by ­Lutoslawski as their centrepiece, the Amaryllis Quartet gave their Queen's Hall audience some tough, and not especially rewarding, listening yesterday morning.

Star rating: ***

Venue: The Queen’s Hall

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Infrequently performed, it is the sort of piece that is hard to make head or tail of.

Starting with a ­“monologue” that could ­easily have been mistaken for the first violin tuning up, the music seemed almost humorous sometimes, but more often uncomfortable in its jagged rhythms and ­fragmented bursts of notes.

Notwithstanding the ­energy and commitment the four players brought to the piece, it failed to completely convince. There was difficult listening in Beethoven’s String Quartet Op 127 too, this time nothing to do with the composer, but the balance among the players. Gustav Frielinghaus’s full toned violin on top combined with Yves Sandoz’s beautifully melodic cello too often overshadowed the middle voices of second violin, Lena Sandoz, and Tomoko Akasaka’s viola.

Perhaps this was what led to the overall resultant sound not penetrating to the heart of the music, the first of Beethoven’s late string quartets and one of his most profound. Haydn’s Bird quartet to start was bright and breezy with a light delicacy that ­suited its theme.