REVIEW: Piatti Quartet, Portsmouth Guildhall

Piatti Quartet
Piatti Quartet
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And they were only runners-up in the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition! Unbelievable.

Playing in Portsmouth where that competition originated, the Piatti Quartet proved themselves winners.

From the opening of Mozart’s Quartet in B-flat, K589, the players’ 18th century phrasing teemed with musical life. And in Bartok’s Quartet No 5 they achieved an astonishing range of 20th century characterisation, particularly in the slow movement: lyrical, eerie and percussive, simple and complex and always seeming right.

The listener could admire all such effects, and yet embrace them not as gimmicks but as essential to the musical argument – and the same was true of this Portsmouth Chamber Music concert’s crowning glory: Beethoven’s mighty Quartet in F, Op 59 No 1.

How delicate was the opening, how miraculous the combination of lyricism and blazing, pounding life. How precisely characterised was every bar. How inward, how wondrously tender was the slow movement.

Even in the irresistible onward surge, time somehow stood still

Colin Jagger, director of music at the University of Portsmouth and founder of this concert series, chose exceptionally well here.