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"...for warmth and intimacy and glorious surroundings, Llanfyllin can scarcely be beaten" - The Allegri Quartet

2006 Concert Programme

Date

Programme

30th June

Beethoven Op 18 No. 1
Shostakovich Quartet No. 8
Tchaikovsky Quartet No.1

2nd July

Haydn "Fifths" Op 76 No. 2
Shostakovich Quartet No. 11
Mozart Eb Quintet (with Peter Carter, viola)

7th July

Haydn "Razor" Op 55 No. 2
Janacek Quartet No. 1 "Kreutzer Sonata"
Mozart D major Quintet (with Peter Carter, viola)

9th July

Shubert "QuartettSatz"
Mozart Quartet in C, K465, "Dissonance"
Tchaikovsky "Souvenir de Florence" Sextet
(with Bruno Schrecker, cello and Peter Carter, viola)

All of this year's concerts took place in St Myllin's Church.

Other events

Oswestry School Recital Series September 23, 2006

Mozart Quartet K575 in D major
Smetana Quartet No 1, "From My Life"
Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor

The hall of the Peter Humphreys Centre was gratifying crowded for this concert, which was completely sold out. In future I think we will all be careful to book well in advance!

This was an early opportunity to meet the Allegri in its new form with Alda Dizdari replacing Daniel Rowland as first violin. A change of personnel always causes a slight twinge of unease among the longstanding admirers of the Quartet and although some of us had seen Alda during a tryout at Llanfyllin, she was not known to the whole audience. The "rousing Oswestry welcome" with which Christopher Symons invited us to welcome the Quartet was thus inflected with a distinct sense of anticipation.

The Mozart Quartet is a surprisingly genial work given that it was written in a period of worry and illness towards the end of Mozart's life, and the Allegri's rendition was all we have come to expect - full of a sense of fun and enjoyment, the musicians seeming to play for their own enjoyment as much as for ours.

When one sees a subtitle such as "From My Life" appended to a piece of music, there is always a slight fear that it will prove a self-indulgent interpretation of the artist's trials and tribulations. Perhaps in other hands, Smetana's Quartet No1 would indeed have had such a flavour, and I suspect would have proven distinctly indigestible. Not this evening. We were treated to a fiery and invigorating performance; melodies and rhythms thrown from voice to voice and back again, the grave and serious beautifully contrasted with the exuberant and frivolous. In nearly thirty years of concertgoing, I don't think I've ever heard this piece performed better. Not even by the Allegri themselves!

After the interval, the Quartet was joined by Christopher Symons, the Director of the Oswestry School Recital Series, for a performance of Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor. Again the sense of the musicians' enjoyment was transmitted to the audience in a really powerful performance, exhilarating and reflective by turns. This was a rousing end to a concert that I believe we could well name among the Allegri's very best performances of the last fifty years.

Rachel Wright

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30 June 2006 – The Allegri Quartet

Beethoven Op 18 No. 1
Shostakovich Quartet No. 8
Tchaikovsky Quartet No.1

A slightly smaller audience than usual gathered for this first concert of the 2006 Festival, but nevertheless an enthusiastic and knowledgeable one. The concert opened with something of a surprise. Daniel Rowland, who will shortly be leaving the Quartet, was unable to be present, and his place was taken by Alda Dizdari, a young Albanian violinist who is now a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music. This also resulted in a slight change of programme - the advertised Beethoven was replaced by the Mozart "Dissonance" Quartet, K465, which was originally programmed for the final concert of the Festival. Alda led the Allegri in an assured and sparkling performance - very much the Allegri we know and love, even though she had had only three weeks of rehearsals to prepare for it!

After that, we were back to the programme as planned for the Shostakovich Quartet No 8, which as Pal reminded us the Quartet last played in Llanfyllin on the never-to-be-forgotten occasion when they had been involved in a car accident on the way, and started the concert an hour late in consequence, "glad to be alive at all", as he said. We were all reassured that he told us they are still glad to be alive! The Quartet No 8 is considered one of Shostakovich's most accessible quartets, one which "speaks" even to those less convinced by late 20th century music. In this truly electrifying performance, the intensity and intelligence which are so much in the tradition of the Allegri's interpretations were both clearly in evidence. By avoiding the trap of excessive emotionalism that less thoughtful groups sometimes fall into, the Allegri allowed the music to speak for itself, and had their reward in the enthusiastic response of the audience.

After the interval, the Quartet returned to play Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No1, Op 11. This is an expansive piece, almost orchestral in feel, a welcome relief after the intensity of the Shostakovich. It brought the concert to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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2 July 2006 – The Allegri Quartet with Peter Carter

Haydn "Fifths" Op 76 No. 2
Shostakovich Quartet No. 11
Mozart E flat Quintet

Daniel began the concert with a lyrical description of the musicians' day in Llanfyllin - swimming in the river and walking in the countryside, enjoying the views and the weather. He told us that giving a concert in St Myllin's Church is the ideal finale to such a day!

The Haydn "Fifths" Quartet is a charming piece, which includes the direction Andante o piu tosto allegretto - we were informed that none of the Quartet were able to translate that "tosto", and they had been forced to fall back on Peter Carter's theory that it is a reference to Johan Tost, friend and colleague of Haydn's at Esterhazy, who had a habit of hurrying a little in performances. Whatever the origin of the direction, the Allegri produced a vibrant performance - clearly a day in the Welsh sunshine is indeed an excellent preparation for a concert.

The great advantage of a concert series played within a short period is the opportunity it affords for comparisons. The second Shostakovich Quartet of the Festival, No 11 in F minor, is strikingly different from the No 8 we heard on Friday. Much more sparse in texture, and less directly accessible, the Allegri's virtuoso performance of the seven short movements, played without a break, created a seamless and intelligible whole.

After the interval, the Allegri were joined by Peter Carter for the Mozart Quintet in Eflat, K614. It is still rather disconcerting to see Peter Carter in the second viola seat after all his years as first violin. The Quintet is a good-tempered piece, the Landler that forms the Trio of the Third movement seeming especially appropriate to a warm summer evening, and the smiles that occasionally lit up the concentrated faces of the musicians giving ample evidence that they enjoy playing it as much as we enjoyed listening. By the end of the boisterous finale, it was no surprise that the ovation continued until our hands were sore!

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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7 July 2006 – The Allegri Quartet with Peter Carter

Haydn Op 55 No. 2 "Razor"
Janacek Quartet No. 1 "Kreutzer Sonata"
Mozart D major Quintet

The concert opened with Haydn's "Razor" Quartet Op 55 No 2 in F minor, which is bright and jovial, full of examples of Haydn's inventive genius. The Allegri gave an exhilarating and virtuosic performance, an excellent opening to this second weekend to the Festival.

The "Kreutzer Sonata" Quartet No 1 by Janacek is a remarkable work, written apparently in a single week and inspired by Tolstoy's novel of the same name. This was a spine-tingling performance, which truly told the tragic story underpinning the music. The musicians gave full play to the emotions and ideas within the music, capturing the anguish and jealousy at the heart of the tale with quite chilling intensity. This is not, perhaps, an easy work to listen to, given the emotional core of the music, but when given in such a vibrant and impassioned performance, it is certainly worth the effort!

After the interval, we were delighted that Peter Carter rejoined the Allegri for the Mozart Quintet in D major, K593. He told us he had been listening to the quartets before the Interval, wondering how he'd ever managed to play all those notes, and commented wryly that while the part for the second viola did not have as many notes as the first violin part, they were all in the wrong clef! The five musicians gave a performance full of life and energy, the performers clearly revelling in the music, which as Christopher Symons said in the (excellent) programme notes is among Mozart's finest string writing.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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9 July 2006 – The Allegri Quartet with Peter Carter and Bruno Shrecker

Schubert QuartettSatz
Mozart Quartet in C, K465, "Dissonance"
Tchaikovsky Sextet "Souvenir de Florence"

Schubert is a composer in whom intensity of musical expression never produces ugly or jarring music, even in the moments of Gothick terror that inform some of his works. The Allegri gave us a beautiful and deeply felt reading of the Quartettsatz, allowing the melodies to ring out through the stillness of the Llanfyllin summer evening.

Pal reminded us that in the place of the advertised Mozart, we were to hear the Beethoven originally intended for the first concert. He described the quartet (Op 18 No 1) as one of Beethoven's most witty early works, and so indeed it proved, the music sparkling and lively. From the invigorating chords that opened the first movement to the final striking cadence, this was an intelligent and inspiring performance.

The Tchaikovsky Sextet after the interval marked an Allegri first - in all its long and illustrious life, and its many incarnations, the Allegri Quartet has never before played this lovely piece! Souvenir de Florence is an exciting work, as Christopher Symons said in the programme notes, "Tchaikovsky at his most cheerfully romantic best" with expansive melodies that allow the musicians to demonstrate all the beauty of tone at their command. This was an exciting performance that won uproarious and prolonged applause from the audience - a fantastic climax to the 2006 season.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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