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Fyrish Quartet excels at Concert

Cowal Music Club’s concert last Sunday was given by the excellent young Fyrish String Quartet, - Joe Hodson & Helena Rose (violins), Sarah Leonard (viola), and Tim Cais (cello).

It was explained early on that Helena would replace Emma Donald (who was indisposed) as 2nd violin, a role she fulfilled very eloquently.

The players sounded very comfortable playing together, with assured ensemble playing, tuning, and intonation, and presented the music in a relaxed way, enhancing the contact between themselves and the audience.

The very attractive programme included two beautiful mainstream works, - Haydn’s Quartet op 76 in Bb (known as The Sunrise), and the Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s early quartet in G minor, op 13, which deserves to be played more often. It is a 4 movement work, with strong often dramatic outer movements, a lovely slow movement (in Eb), and an exciting Scherzo.

interestingly, the newer pieces played proved especially interesting and enjoyable. In the first part of the concert, The Sound of Sleepless Kings, by Emma Donald (normally the quartet’s 2nd violinist), came over especially well. Based on the idea of sleeplessness, it was expertly structured and particularly well written for the quartet, with a very effective palette of ideas, - from lyrical expressive writing to ostinato patterns and pulsating passages punctuated by lively rhythms and use of pizzicato (plucked strings), with the atmospheric ending mirroring the opening bars. This work was first performed in April, and Emma is clearly a composer whose success is already bringing her more commissions.

Another interesting work called simply Two Movements for Quartet was by the early twentieth century English/American composer Rebecca Clarke, many of whose pieces have been neglected – a fate suffered by many women composers of that era. This work, in a rhapsodic vein, in some ways reminded of Vaughan-Williams (or even Delius), and was well appreciated by the audience.

The afternoon’s Finale, an arrangement of Dark Lochnagar by Seonad Aitken, proved highly effective, with its atmospheric beginning and ending, being in a pseudo-variations style using Scottish/Celtic musical idioms.

It was, all in all, an excellent afternoon’s music-making, which was received with enthusiastic and sustained applause by the audience, - deservedly so!

Cowal Music Club’s next concert will take place on October 22nd, when the JKL Duo - Kerry Lynch (flute), and Jacobo Lazzaretti (guitar) will perform.


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