Benjamin Britten had a profound dislike for the music of Brahms and so it was tantalising to hear music by both composers bookending Mozart’s great G Major Quartet in the programme performed by the Badke Quartet.
Britten’s 3rd and final work in this medium, premiered in a private performance just a week before his death, is by turns acerbic or lyrical. Much of the material used is taken from his opera Death in Venice, and the magical sound world was captured perfectly by these players, who clearly enjoyed the challenge.
The second half began with Mozart, and the quartet maintained a taut ensemble throughout. The allegretto was suitably graceful and the extraordinarily finale, full of complex fugal writing, was a tour de force.
Slightly less successful was the C minor quartet of Brahms. The overwhelming mood of this work is frantic and the passionate outer movements were not always together. This was impressive playing.