Review: 21 October 2021 – Albion Quartet: Mozart, Waley-Cohen, Brahms

  • Mozart String Quartet No.18 in A, K.464
  • Freya Waley-Cohen Snapdragon
  • Brahms String quartet No.3 in B flat, op.67

The young Albion Quartet proved to be a popular choice on their first appearance together at Malvern. Alison Hunka, our honorary page turner, kindly offered to review the concert.

The audience at this concert was given an exhibition of the contrasting styles and moods that four very accomplished musicians can create. The programme opened with Mozart’s Quartet in A, K 464. Violinists, Tamsin Waley-Cohen and Emma Parker, violist, Ann Beilby, and cellist, Nathaniel Boyd, played this work with a light gossamer effect. Their fingers and bows nimbly created an intricately woven Mozartian classical style. I would have liked more contrasted dynamics and more drama. I felt that the players had put the composer on a pedestal and were treating him rather reverentially but, as a member of the audience, one sensed immediately how many hours the players have spent together to achieve this unity.

The next work was a complete contrast. Snap Dragon was composed by Freya Waley-Cohen, sister of the quartet’s leader. She described the flower as being vibrantly coloured and looking like a dragon’s face. The music reflected the mischief and colours. The Albion players were so obviously enjoying playing this work, new to the audience, but so much a part of their repertoire.

After the interval the Brahms Quartet No.3 in B flat, Op.67 was introduced by viola player, Ann Beilby. We learned of the empathy Brahms had for the viola, how his music is always richly rewarding for violists to play. The performance to which we were then treated was passionate, strong and
convincing. The melodies soared, and the contrasting subtleties crept into our consciousness.

We were given an encore of the final movement of Antonin Dvórak’s American Quartet. They played this with the relaxed familiarity which comes from having spent time recording the work.

The evening was enjoyed by everyone in the Forum Theatre, both players and audience.

Alison Hunka

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