TALK about leaving the best until last.
The opening Haydn Sunrise was delightful as you’d expect. It would be hard to imagine a lighter touch to the gentler parts of this sprightly and good-humoured piece.
The Dante Quartet make no attempt to hide their in-play communication, no slight tilt of the head or raised eyebrow when full eye contact and a broad grin will do. It makes for very inclusive music-making and became even more fun with the addition of Benjamin Frith for the closing Schumann Piano Quintet.
This generous slice of romantic invention and cascading lyricism was beautifully played and a fitting way to bring the curtain down on yet another triumphant festival of complementing recitals packed with excellent content programming.
But part of me went away thinking it may have been bolder – and, as it turned out, completely justified – to have ended with the linking ingredient in this feast Robert Simpson and his truly marvellous Quartet No 8.
When life suddenly produces something you’ve never encountered before and which leaves you utterly blown away, you realise what festivals like this are for. A quite breathtaking first movement and subsequent passages of deathly, stretched-out calm and boisterous conversations, arguments even, between the instruments, mark this as a piece demanding frequent listening.
Simpson’s inventiveness and language requires the quartet to act at times as four players in an unfolding drama and at other times as as a single, four-stranded instrument. It calls for immense concentration and a lot of thought and the Dante Quartet absolutely shone. Rich pickings indeed.
Full details of many future recitals in the area including a packed programme heralding the approach of the festive season can be found at leamingtonmusic.org