Teatime treats from the Coull Quartet - The Leamington Observer

Teatime treats from the Coull Quartet

Coull String Quartet

Holy Trinity Church, Leamington

THE WIDE expansive landscape of Finland met the crisp formality of the baroque era via a brief burst of upbeat South America in a finely-crafted programme from the Coull Quartet.

Leamington’s music scene has, thanks to the tireless efforts of its organisers over many decades, always had a firm foundation within chamber music – and the quartet in particular – and this was yet another visit to be enjoyed and remembered. Music is as alive as it has ever been in this festival, and as gratefully appreciated as ever too.

Sibelius’s D Minor Quartet ‘Voces Intimae’ was written while the composer was also working on the large-scale symphonic works for which he is best known and there was something of the symphonic about the slowly-building opening portion of this reading. Interwoven conversations and arching lines provided a soundscape larger than the sum of its parts and barely contained within this fair-sized church.

After a brief interlude of lyrical melody from Villa Lobos – almost an encore treat placed in the middle of the programme – the quartet applied the quality of ensemble playing which only comes from years of experience in a delightful, captivating performance of Haydn’s Quartet in F ‘The Dream’. Spirited, pin sharp and not without humour, this was a splendid teatime feast indeed.

Necessity has, in recent seasons, seen the festival cast the net a little wider when it comes to venues and Holy Trinity’s warm acoustic suits this kind of programme well. The sound is slightly less crisp than other venues but certainly allows the lower end of the dynamic to shine. Perhaps because of this it was the slower movements and cello-led passages in both quartets which really resonated.

Social distancing has made obvious changes to the way we engage with our music. So many concerts, including most in this festival, have had to be presented as shorter, single act dramas thus avoiding the potential traps of having the audience mingling in any interval. It’s necessary, of course, but the loss of a chance to absorb the music and share thoughts with others is a loss all the same.

It must be odd for those performing music of such and intimate, immediate nature to look out and see their efforts met by a sea of masked faces. Thankfully there is no masking simple, grateful applause and there was plenty of that.

For those unwilling to devote the entire coming week to football, Leamington Music Festival has many sparkling gems to offer. Reduced capacity, buoyant ticket sales and some inventive kick-off times mean a visit to leamingtonmusic.org is strongly advised.



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