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Haydn String Quartet in F Op. 77 No. 2
Shostakovich String Quartet No. 3 in F Op. 73

Beethoven String Quartet in F minor Op. 95 'Serioso'
Brahms String Quartet in C minor Op. 51 No. 1

Atrium Quartet & Cuarteto Casals

Wigmore Hall 7.30 31 October 2008

This splendid concert celebrated the London String Quartet Competition, which we have been reviewing for longer than I care to remember, and previewed the 11th Competition, to be held at the Royal College of Music and Wigmore Hall next March. It was inaugurated by Yehudi Menuhin in Portsmouth, 1979, and moved to London in 1991 since when we've been there !

The Russian Atrium Quartet won in 2003 when we were their enthusiastic supporters, expecially for their Shostakovich 5. No 3 on this return to Wigmore Hall vindicated that victory (plus audience prize) and was remarkable for its poise and precise ensemble. It was preced by, if anything, an even more remarkable Haydn &&/2 in which the sheen of the leader's violin, never strident or dominating, was especially notable. A magnificent hour of music suggesting maturity beyond youthful brilliance 5 years on. We will certainly look out for opportunities to hear them baack in UK again in a full length recital.

Cuarteto Casals' tough programme would better have come first. Beethoven Op 95 was despatched with furious brilliance and accuracy. This group plays feeling as one, with the cellist maintaining watchful eye contact with his colleagues and flexibility of rhythm and emotional charge conspicuous in the Brahms 51/1, not a good choice really to end an evening which lasted until after 10 o'clock, losing some listeners before the end to the vagaries of London's transport on Halloween Night.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See 8th & 9th Competitions at http://musicalpointers.co.uk/competitions/9th_and8thlondonstrqucomp.html