Wednesday 24 October 2018
Storey's Field Centre, Eddington, Cambridge (Just off Huntingdon Road)
The performance of serious music has settled onto one of two broad approaches, either the ‘historical’ or the ‘modern’. Each method is limited by its established simplicities: the first by its refusal to use either portamento or vibrato, while resorting to uniform bowing, the second by allowing brass-bound symphony orchestras to deafen their own members while delivering standardised performances.
Here, inside the newest Hall in Cambridge, shortlisted for the Stirling Prize - and formed of oak in the traditional shape of a double-cube, or shoebox, the players of the Queens Hall Quartet will play on modern instruments with pure-gut top strings in order to deliver the widest range of colours and bow strokes to a modern audience. Such an approach is rare, if not unique, among string players of the 21st century. The QHQ will adopt expressive methods long abandoned, such as portamento and a mixture of non-vibrato, finger-vibrato and broader vibrato according to context, effects which will be brought to life in the natural acoustic of the new Storey’s Field Centre Hall.
The Queens Hall Quartet eschews convention by incorporating every device of the past, the present and perhaps some about to be invented. Furthermore the QHQ treats the finest works as journeys across a landscape, with the tempi of a piece affected by the changes in the players heartbeats as they climb, walk or descend across the terrain and not by the unfeeling inevitabilities of a metronome. In short, there will be more frequent variations of speed and atmosphere than are currently heard in such music: indeed, every performance will be different and personal.
Virtually the whole repertoire is open to similar treatment once the tyranny of convention is rejected. The idea that Beethoven’s works have long been considered beyond the scope of innovation is ridiculous. Thurston Dart was insistent that music is in the end concerned with expression.
Queens Hall String Quartet:
Amy Tress – violin
Joseph Devalle – violin
Jenny Lewisohn – viola
Peter Sokolovskis – cello
Running time - 1hr 45 minutes