Friday 1 December 2023

Early Beethoven & Verdi's only string quartet in London's oldest surviving Livery Hall

Apothecaries' Hall
Apothecaries' Hall

Verdi: String Quartet in E minor, Beethoven: String Quartet No. 3 in D major; Kleio String Quartet; City Music Foundation at the Apothecaries' Hall
29 November 2023

Beethoven's first string quartet paired with Verdi's only essay in the genre in engagingly characterful performances from CMF Artists, the Kleio String Quartet

The Great Hall at St Bartholomew's Hospital is currently closed for restoration, which means that for its 10th anniversary season the City Music Foundation (CMF) is presenting its lunchtime concerts at a selection of the City's Livery Halls. On Wednesday 29 November 2023, it was the turn of the Apothecaries' Hall, the oldest surviving Livery Hall in use in London. The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries rebuilt their hall in the years following the Fire of London from 1669 to 1672 and three main rooms, including the hall itself, remain unchanged since the late 17th-century.

At the Apothecaries' Hall on 29 November 2023, CMF Artists the Kleio String Quartet (Yume Fujise, Katherine Yoon, Jenny Lewisohn and Eliza Millett) performed Verdi's String Quartet in E minor and Beethoven's String Quartet No. 3 in D major.

Verdi's string quartet is his only surviving chamber music, written in 1873 when the composer was in Naples for a production of Aida. In his letters he attaches little importance to the work, trying to create the impression that he wrote it simply to pass the time, and in fact he had time to write it because the soprano playing Aida fell ill and the premiere had to be postponed. Yet it is a work of some sophistication and finesse, and the influence of its instrumental writing can perhaps be detected in his late operas.

The opening Allegro was both engaging and intriguing; as one might expect, the melodic material was memorable yet Verdi's treatment of it was dramatic, taking us from transparent calm to strenuous drama and back. And throughout the players' commitment to the music was total, playing with great vividness. The Andantino featured a delightfully insouciant violin melody, though as the movement developed the players mined the more dramatic and intense aspects of the music. The third movement, marked Prestissimo was vividly energetic with a hint of the operatic in the material. The finale is marked Scherzo Fuga, and it began in a delightfully delicate manner, full of character. The quartet brought out the operatic feel of the music and it ended with a wonderful burst of furious energy.

The second work in the programme was the third of Beethoven's Opus 18 quartets, though in fact it was the first to be written. After a gentle, almost tender introduction the first movement proper proved full of character. Though the music is very much first violin led, the players made it about the whole ensemble. The gentle, yet strong toned Andante con moto featured rich contributions from all four players, whilst the fast moving energetic Allegro was full of strong colours. The Presto finale was engagingly characterful, full of suppressed energy it featured lively conversations between the instruments.

Further interesting facts about the Apothecaries Company that we learned:

  • The Apothecaries were originally part of the Grocers Company but broke away in 1617
  • The company founded the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1673 to grow plants to be used as medicines and barges used to take the apprentices from the hall to the garden
  • The company still takes a strong academic role, 85% of its members are medically or pharmaceutically qualified

Never miss out on future posts by following us

The blog is free, but I'd be delighted if you were to show your appreciation by buying me a coffee.

Elsewhere on this blog

  • A distinctive voice & a richly rewarding sound-world: songs by Franco Alfano from Anna Pirozzi & Emma Abbate -record review
  • Handel by candle-light & a gig on Jimi Hendrix's bed: Handel Hendrix After Dark - concert review
  • Captivating & fascinating: Goldberg from Syriab Trio and Trio d'Iroise, bringing together Western classical, Arabic music and Bach - record review
  • A remarkable sense of energy & engagement: Wagner's Die Walküre from the London Opera Company at St John's Smith Square - opera review
  • Dependent ArisingAmerican violinist Rachel Barton Pine on combining classical and Heavy Metal on her latest concerto album -interview
  • Magical textures & supple lines: Fauré's La bonne chanson, Ravel & Canteloube from Louise Alder & eleven friends at Wigmore Hall - concert review
  • Taking its energy from the youth of the performers: Olivia Fuchs' new production of Handel's Ariodante at Royal Academy Opera - opera review
  • Epic re-imagining of Miles Davis’ legendary album Bitches Brew in the first ever performance from super group London Brew - concert review
  • Songs for Our Times: songs by Stuart MacRae & Bernard Hughes based on texts by Chinwe D. John - record review
  • Challenging and exciting: Marius Neset joins London Sinfonietta for a performance his Geyser - concert review
  • Singing in the rain: London Song Festival celebrates the bi-centenary of the Mackintosh - concert review
  • Home

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month